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ECFA "Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Committee" and TIFA "Trade and Investment Committee" both serve as platforms for equal negotiations

Jun 15. 2010, No. 045

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) responded to a news report today (June 15, 2010) in the Liberty Times entitled, "The Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Committee specially in charge of handling the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) duplicates the Hong Kong model." The MAC stated that Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Huang Kun-huei self-belittles and self-denies the existence of the Republic of China by equating the reciprocal negotiation platform under the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) framework with the Hong Kong model of "one country, two systems" and the "subordinate central-local relation."

MAC Minister Lai Shin-yuan stated that the Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Committee will be established as a negotiation platform in accordance with the ECFA and under the SEF-ARATS framework, similar to the Trade and Investment Committee stipulated by the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and under the frameworks of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs (CCNAA) and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). Both are negotiation mechanisms established between two equal parties. However, the Joint Steering Committee formed under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) signed between Hong Kong and mainland China on the "one country, two systems" basis was established by the two CEPA signatories, namely the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Financial Secretary's Office of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC. This differs from the framework of two equal parties. Therefore, CEPA's Joint Steering Committee serves an administrative guidance function based on a subordinate central-local relationship. It does not have negotiation functions, but rather is charged with administrative guidance and supervision of CEPA's implementation. This is entirely different from the Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Committee to be formed under the SEF-ARATS negotiation framework, as well as from the Trade and Investment Committee formed by the CCNAA and the AIT.

Minister Lai stated that the Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Committee is a mechanism set up and participated equally by designated representatives from the two sides across the Taiwan Straits to handle follow-up negotiations. Therefore, it is a negotiation platform.

Lai Shin-yuan also stated that regional or bilateral economic agreements signed among other countries in the world all have established similar platforms to promote follow-up negotiations, including the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement (Article 19), Japan-Singapore Economic Partnership Agreement (Articles 117, 128, and 132), Malaysia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (Article 15), and US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (Paragraph 1 of Article 20). All of these agreements have content to establish similar joint committees in charge of promoting follow-up negotiations, supervising the agreement implementation, and explaining the articles.

The MAC emphasized that the Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Committee is a follow-up negotiation mechanism promoted and established to protect Taiwan's economic identity and realize the policy principle of moving forward in a gradual and orderly manner while consolidating at every step. In the future, agreements completed by the Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Committee will be signed by the SEF and the ARATS or their designated representatives. Related agreements also will be submitted to the Legislative Yuan for reference or deliberation according to Article 5 of the Act Governing Relations between People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area. There absolutely will be no question of closed-door negotiations or secret liaison. To equate the Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Committee with the "Hong Kong Model" is to confuse the facts, as well as to self-belittle and self-deny Taiwan's identity. Moreover, to call the Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Committee a secret pact between the KMT Party and the Communist Party of China is an attempt to fabricate fear.