Trade deal essential for Taiwan [Letter]

March 31, 2014

A concerned citizenry is essential for a healthy democracy. While a great deal of attention is focused on the recent protests in Taiwan, it is our responsibility to elaborate the effort of the Republic of China (Taiwan) government to address concerns about the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) ("Taiwan head chastises protests on trade deal," March 24).

The TiSA was signed in accordance with the ROC principle of "putting Taiwan first for the benefits of the people." The Legislative Yuan has held a total of 16 public hearings on the TiSA since it was signed in June 2013, and the relevant government authorities have organized over 100 forums to explain the pact to the public. While the protesters have not explained which articles in the agreement they take issue with, the government is hoping to hold an article-by-article discussion and review of the deal's content instead of passing it in a package to put to rest any fears that the agreement will be detrimental to Taiwan's status as a self-ruled democracy.

The TiSA is a necessary accord in order for Taiwan to catch up to other competitors in the mainland market, and it is in fact more favorable to Taiwan than mainland China. It includes 80 specific commitments by mainland China to Taiwan but only 64 by Taiwan to the mainland, many of which were in substance already operational. It will also create 12,000 new jobs without adverse effects to cab drivers, factory workers, nurses or other blue-collar workers.

As Taiwan faces increasing risks of being marginalized in the face of regional integration, it is imperative for Taiwan to seek trade pacts that will allow our business wider market access and more preferential tariff rates. The agreement is crucial to Taiwan's future economic and trade competitiveness. It is also an important step toward trade liberalization that makes Taiwan a significantly more attractive prospect for critical regional and international trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Frank Yee Wang, Washington, D.C.

The writer is director of the press division in the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.

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