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KMT caucus whip worries over blockage of cross-strait bills
Central News Agency
2014-09-04 11:20 PM
Taipei, Sept. 4 (CNA) The legislative whip of the ruling Kuomintang cautioned Thursday that if opposition lawmakers continue to block cross-strait bills from review, Taiwan's economic prospects could be at stake. Alex Fai, who is a member of the Legislature's Finance Committee, was referring to the not-yet endorsed trade-in-services pact and a monitoring bill for future cross-strait pacts, both of which have been stalled in a deadlocked Legislature. Fai's remarks came after Chen Deming, China's top negotiator to Taiwan, said talks on a free trade agreement with South Korea are progressing smoothly and are 90 percent complete. Chen said earlier in the day after a meeting with his Taiwanese counterpart Lin Join-sane that it could be "difficult" to finalize a cross-strait trade-in-goods pact before China and South Korea sign their FTA. "The ball is not in our court, but in Taiwan's court," Chen said bluntly on the progress of a cross-strait trade-in-goods pact.

Fai echoed the sense of impending peril later in the day, saying that if China finalizes the FTA with South Korea, it will result in a 5 percent loss to Taiwan's industrial competitiveness as businesses take flight or shut down plants, impacting hundreds of thousands of jobs. While Fai put a number on the losses, a business leader said it would be hard to estimate the damage if South Korea beats Taiwan on the trade agreement front, and the longer it takes Taiwan to catch up, the greater the damage will be. Tsai Lien-sheng, secretary-general of the Taipei-based Chinese National Federation of Industries, said that after South Korea's FTAs with the United States and the European Union, Taiwan's exports to those two markers declined sharply. Moreover, since China is a high tariff country, Taiwan's exports there could end up subjected to 10 percent higher tariffs than similar South Korean products, leaving made-in-Taiwan goods "with no market at all," he warned. The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou has hoped for an early passage of the trade-in-services pact that was signed in June 2013, but the massive student-led protests early this year led the government to agree to have a bill on monitoring cross-strait pacts screened first. (By Chen Wei-ting, Lin Shu-yuan and Lilian Wu)

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