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Premier: No merchandise trade pact before service trade agreement
Central News Agency
2014-04-15 10:15 PM
Taipei, April 15 (CNA) Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Tuesday that he is not considering a suggestion to sign a trade-in-merchandise pact with China before the controversial service trade pact has been cleared the legislative floor. Respected Taiwan-based economist Ma Kai suggested over the weekend that the government shelve the service trade pact with China that has sparked widespread opposition and push for a more important merchandise trade agreement. The premier told the media that during the course of bilateral negotiations over trade deals, it has become apparent that merchandise trade involves too many items, is more complex and requires more time, which is why the service trade pact was signed first. The premier noted that China and South Korea are currently negotiating a free trade agreement. If Taiwan's trade-in-services agreement with China, which was signed in June 2013, could have been put into effect last year as scheduled, Taiwanese manufacturers would already have had a whole year for their deployment in China. Now, however, that edge is drifting away, he said. The premier said that people might not have a sense of crisis until the South Korea-China FTA has been signed, but the government nevertheless needs to make efforts to put the service trade pact into effect. After the April 10 conclusion of the unprecedented occupation of the Legislature by student protesters, he said, now is the time the merits and disadvantages of the service trade pact are discussed. He pointed out that the government will not be afraid of scrutiny if the service trade pact is the challenge Taiwan must face on its way to liberalization and internationalization. If the majority of people clearly know the significance of the trade-in-merchandise and trade-in-services pacts, and still choose not to have them put into effect, "then we could just say that Taiwan's collective will is ready to choose a path that is not so open or liberal and that it will have to accept the consequences collectively." Asked if he is worried that the service trade pact will fall through, he said he certainly has concerns, but does not think it is completely hopeless just because of the widespread opposition over the past month. "I am not that pessimistic," he said. Although the students have ended occupation of the Legislature, the service trade pact still faces an uphill battle after Legislative Speaker Wang jin-pyng agreed to student demands to pass an oversight bill on all cross-Taiwan Strait agreements before reviewing the controversial pact. (By Hsieh Chia-chen and Lilian Wu)
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