Taiwan: Taiwan Free to Sign FTAs: MAC Head
Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan said Thursday [April 8] that Taiwan is free to negotiate and sign free trade agreements with foreign countries without the need for China's approval.
Below is an article published by Focus Taiwan News Channel:
Taipei, (CNA) Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan said Thursday [April 8] that Taiwan is free to negotiate and sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with foreign countries without the need for China's approval.
Lai made the remarks at a legislative session while answering questions raised by Chiu Yi-ying of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) , who said China will still seek to block Taiwan's efforts to ink FTAs with its trade partners even if a planned cross- strait economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) is signed.
Lai said Taiwan is seeking to forge the ECFA with China because it has been the country's largest export market for the past seven years and is the one that is most hotly sought-after by all other leading trading countries.
In the meantime, Taiwan is redoubling its efforts to seek FTAs with the world's major economic players, Lai went on.
"Both sides (Taiwan and China) should take into account each other's concerns in negotiating the ECFA.... and I believe China dare not say that you (Taiwan) should not sign FTAs after the cross-strait deal is signed,'" Lai said.
Earlier that same day, the Legislative Yuan's Interior Affairs Committee voted down a motion initiated by several DPP lawmakers to include a phrase that reads: "China should not stand in the way of Taiwan's signing of FTAs with other counties" in the text of the planned trade pact.
The DPP lawmakers had asked that the pact should be in both Chinese and English, with "agreement" being in the official wording of the pact rather than "arrangement, " which is the word used in the trade deal between Hong Kong and China -- the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement.
The DPP-led pan-green camp has been vigorously opposed to the ECFA over concerns that it will increase Taiwan's economic dependence on China and cause job losses in some local sectors.
President Ma Ying-jeou, who doubles as chairman of the ruling Kuomintang, is scheduled to hold a TV debate on the ECFA with DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen May 25. (By Liu Cheng-ching and Bear Lee) ENDITEM/J