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May 24, 2017

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MAC calls on lawmakers to pass act, stresses worry over China-Korea FTA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Lin Chu-chia (林祖嘉) yesterday urged the Legislative Yuan to pass the cross-strait agreement supervisory act (兩岸協議監督條例), saying that although the Executive Yuan has already proposed its own draft bill, portions of non-Cabinet versions can also be considered.

Taiwan is highly dependent on foreign trade, and mainland China accounts for roughly 40 percent of the island's exports, Lin said, adding that the trade volume between the two sides of the strait account for 28 percent of the island's trade volume with the world.

Surpassing the hurdle toward cross-strait trade liberalization will mean surmounting a quarter of the trade barriers that Taiwan faces when exporting its products and services, Lin said.

Student activists requested the establishment of a cross-strait agreement supervisory act, and apart from the Executive Yuan's version, several non-Cabinet versions have also been proposed, the deputy minister pointed out.

As long as these versions are pragmatic, constitutional, transparent and feasible, they can be included in the discussion, Lin said.

However, there are portions of these versions that are highly sensitive, such as referring to the People's Republic of China as a sovereign nation, which runs counter to R.O.C. law, which does not recognize the PRC as a country, Lin explained.

Furthermore, some versions call for sentencing negotiators to seven years in prison if cross-strait agreements are found to be disadvantageous to Taiwan, Lin said, adding that with such a clause, no one would dare to negotiate on the government's behalf.

The supervisory act bears a direct relationship to the fate of the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement as well as the Cross-Strait Trade in Goods Agreement, the deputy minister said.

Mainland China and South Korea are expected to sign a free trade agreement at year-end at the soonest, and if they do sign the agreement, Taiwan will be greatly affected, Lin explained, urging the Legislative Yuan to pass the cross-strait agreement supervisory act.

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