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Commerce groups, businesspeople urge swift passage of pact with China
Central News Agency
2014-03-19 11:14 PM
Taipei, March 19 (CNA) Commerce and industry groups on Wednesday called for quick passage of a trade-in-services pact with China, as protesters continued to occupy the Legislature in protest against the ruling party's efforts to push the deal through a legislative committee review two days earlier. Lai Cheng-yi, head of the General Chamber of Commerce, and Yeh Ming-feng, a consultant with the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, both said they respected the concerns expressed by the protesters, who stormed the legislative chamber late Tuesday and have since been occupying the legislative floor. However, Lai and Yeh said the students may be too young to fully understand the international economic situation or the pact, which was signed last June but has not yet cleared the Legislature. Describing the pact as vital to Taiwan's efforts to boost its economy, Lai, also chairman of local construction group Shining, said it should be passed as soon as possible to take advantage of the Chinese market of 1.3 billion people and to make up for lost opportunities as a result of the delay. Similar views were expressed by local game developers, who have recently placed full-page advertisements in major papers in support of the pact, which would expedite China's processing of Taiwan-developed games and thus give them an edge over foreign and counterfeit games. Meanwhile, some Taiwanese businesspeople in China criticized the protest, saying it was "violent" and could undermine Taiwan's democratic values. Han Chia-chen, head of a Taiwanese businesspeople's group in Tianjin, questioned whether the protesting students truly understood the significance of the pact to Taiwan. As South Korea continues to sign free trade deals with other countries, tariffs on 80 percent of its foreign trade will be removed, in contrast to less than 10 percent of trade in Taiwan, Han said, urging the protesters to face the reality of market conditions. Lin Ching-fa, head of an association of Taiwanese-funded businesses in Beijing, said the protesters have set a bad example for democracy by seeking to reverse a legislative decision that reflects majority public opinion. Saying he was confused by the protesting students' actions, Lin argued that it would have made more sense if the protest was staged by businesses that would be affected by the service trade agreement. He said the machinery and banking groups in Taiwan as well as 138 businesses under the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland, which have placed advertisements and statements in the press highlighting the importance of the pact, are more representative of public opinion. (By Lawrence Chiu, Eva Feng, Lo Hsiu-wen, Huang Chiao-wen and Scully Hsiao)
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