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Minister Wang Holds Campus Discussion on Trade in Services Agreement: Analyzes Shortcomings and Expresses Hope for Public to Treat Agreement Rationally

  • Date:2014-04-22

April 22, 2014
Mac News Release No. 40

Minister Wang Yu-chi of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) held a forum with teachers and students at National Dong Hwa University (NDHU) today (April 22, 2014). He said that his participation to the forum was not just a "pat on the head" for the students, and that they were welcome to pose the sharpest questions, for that is the true value of a democracy. Minister Wang also stated that the government has made thorough reflections on the controversies of the Trade in Services Agreement promotion process, yet it hopes for the public to rationally consider and understand that the agreement is in fact a key step for Taiwan's integration into regional economy.

Minister Wang visited Hualien this morning to participate in a forum on "Cross-Strait Relations and Mainland Policy" co-sponsored by the Department of Public Administration and Center for Mainland Studies at NDHU. He presented a speech entitled "Trade in Services Agreement and Cross-Strait Agreement Supervisory Act" and held a discussion with more than 200 participating students and teachers.

Minister Wang stated that regional economic integration is the current trend in international trade and economic development. Under circumstances that that the FTA coverage ratio in Taiwan's neighboring countries such as Singapore, Korea and Japan have been steadily increasing, Taiwan, as an export-driven economy, must also join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other major organizations for economic integration in East Asia. At the same time, Taiwan needs to pragmatically face the fact that mainland China is both its largest economic and trading partner and overseas market. The government must therefore actively promote the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and its follow-up agreements on trade in services and trade in goods to create conditions for integration into the regional economy.

Minister Wang noted that the Trade in Services Agreement has attracted public concern. In response to the people’s voices, the government has formulated an Cross-Strait Agreement Supervisory Act based on the current Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, in hope to strengthen future promotion of external communication and consultation work at each stage of cross-strait agreements, so that the public may fully participate in the process and congress may exercise supervision both before and after the agreement signing. The act stipulates that competent authorities must present complete impact assessment for each agreement and the agreements must undergo national security review mechanism inspection. The act also refers to procedural precedent and the Exercise of Legislative Powers Law in establishing review procedures for cross-strait agreement supervision. Compared to other versions of the act, which could evoke constitutional disputes and be difficult in practical implementation, the government hopes that through a "constitutional, pragmatic and feasible" approach, future cross-strait agreement promotions may become more institutionalized and transparent.

Minister Wang stressed that everyone has different opinions and views concerning government policy, yet after rational discussion, final decisions should be reached through democratic procedures; only such adheres to the spirit of democracy. Minister Wang highly affirmed the students’ enthusiastic involvement in public affairs, and also expressed hopes that, when the students shoulder greater responsibilities in the future, they may look out for the well being of the greater majority of the people instead of considering only their own positions.