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June 25, 2017

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President Ma calls for speedy passage of the trade-in-services pact

TAIPEI -- President Ma Ying-jeou urged the opposition Monday to set aside partisanship and work together to pass a bill to monitor cross-Taiwan Strait negotiations and ratify the trade-in-services agreement with China soon, warning that Taiwan risks being isolated by delaying.

Speaking at a morning news conference, Ma said the nation should focus on what is in the best interests for Taiwan and the well-being of its people and allow for continued growth and development of the country's economy.

The president called on the opposition to stop using what he called "minority violence" to filibuster and stall the Legislature. He cautioned that continuing to do so poses a threat to Taiwan's economic lifeline.

To prevent itself from being marginalized in the Asia-Pacific region, Taiwan cannot avoid trade liberalization and economic cooperation with China, which is an integral part of global supply chain, he stressed.

As pointed out in an editorial titled "Taiwan Leaves Itself Behind" published Aug. 4 in the Wall Street Journal, maintaining barriers to trade with China cannot solve problems and will only hurt Taiwan, he said.

Citing data from Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs, the paper said 2-5 percent of all of Taiwan's exports to China could be replaced by South Korean products after the China-South Korea free trade agreement is signed, possibly by the end of this year.

In March, an attempt by the ruling Kuomintang, which Ma chairs, to push the trade-in-services agreement through the Legislature sparked extended protests that led to an occupation of the legislative complex by student demonstrators.

The protest ended only after the government promised to establish a law that subjects cross-strait negotiations to stricter oversight. But the new legislation has also been stalled in the Legislative Yuan over a technicality.

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