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ECFA vital to Taiwan  

2009-11-08 16:56:27|  分类: 两岸关系 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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这是我应邀为《中国日报》(英文版)撰写的评论,请大家拍砖。

By Zhang Hua (chinadaily.com.cn)

Updated: 2009-10-29 11:22

The Chinese mainland and Taiwan agreed during the weekend to start formal talks on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), the inking of which will prove key to help prevent Taiwan economy from shrinking.

The ECFA was proposed by Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou who has worked to improve mainland ties since taking office last May, with a closer economic relation at the center of his cross-Straits policies. The framework is important for both the mainland and Taiwan in three ways.

Firstly, it is a necessary step to normalize the cross-straits economic and trade relations. Over the past 20 years, the economic and trade relations across the Taiwan straits is almost unidirectional, which seriously hinder the development of both sides. The capital, enterprises and talents from the mainland, which is conducive to the Taiwanese economy, was not allowed in Taiwan due to the so-called “security” concerns, resulting in an imbalance of cross-straits investment and trade.

Statistics show that up to 70,000 Taiwan-funded enterprises have invested US$40 billion in the mainland in the past three decades, but no mainland-based investment could be found in Taiwan. Over 51 million Taiwanese have visited the mainland, while only 1.9 million mainlanders have had the chance to visit Taiwan in the past 20 years.

Secondly, the framework will provide a boost to both economies, especially that of Taiwan. Thanks to decades of rapid development, the Chinese mainland is rising to a major economic power, offering Taiwan more growth opportunities than other countries or regions.

The mainland’s economy is slated to grow eight percent this year, while other economies are still struggling. That is good news for Taiwan, as 40 percent of its exports head towards the mainland, giving it a huge surplus of US$400 billion in the past 20 years. But such a high proportion of exports being directed to the mainland also makes it an urgent issue to sign the ECFA.

Designed to help gradually remove bilateral trade barriers, rationalize distribution of resources, expand the scope and scale of cooperation, allow industries from the two sides to complement each other, the ECFA is sure to economic development across the Straits

The ECFA will facilitate Taiwan GDP growth by 1.65 to 1.72 extra percentage points, and create 260,000 more job opportunities, according to a study report released by the “Council of Labor Affairs” in Taiwan

The mainland will also benefit from the ECFA, with its economy growing 0.63 percentage points, or US$27 billion, as a result of the reduced tariff, said a report recently issued by the Ministry of Commerce.

Thirdly, the ECFA will help prevent the scenario of Taiwan being isolated in the East-Asian and global economic integration. The ASEAN plus One (Chinese mainland) agreement will take effect next year, while Japan, South Korea have also signed such kind of deals with the Southeast Asian countries. These arrangements will enable the signees to sell their products to each others free from duty, thus severely undermining the competitiveness of Taiwanese exports.

If Taiwan cannot involve itself in the regional and global integration, its manufacturers, particularly petrochemical processors, will face great challenges. However, the ECFA is a solution to these problems. The agreement, covering cargo and service trade, investment and economic cooperation etc, could help facilitate the globalization of Taiwan’s economy and attract more investment.

In addition, as an economic framework, like an FTA (Free Trade Agreement), the ECFA would have no political strings attached. Instead, it would be part of Taiwan's efforts to better position itself in the global economic landscape.

To conclude, the ECFA will help comprehensively deepen the cross-Straits economic cooperation, and allow both sides to better integrate into the global economy.

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