RECIPROCITY?：The pact will require Taiwan to open
almost all its industries to Chinese investment, but China is not offering the
same back, protesters said
By Chris Wang / Staff reporter
Fri, Dec 06, 2013 - Page 3
Representatives from civic groups, the manufacturing and retail industries
and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday voiced their strong opposition
to a proposed cross-strait service trade agreement on the sidelines of a public
hearing at the legislature on the agreement’s impact on local businesses.
The legislature yesterday held the 12th of 16 public hearings on the service
trade pact’s potential impact on the retail and wholesale sectors mandated by a
Representatives from the manufacturing and retail industry staged a protest
in front of the Legislative Yuan building, demanding that the sectors be
excluded from the agreement because the market opening could jeopardize local
businesses and job opportunities.
“We’re talking about the livelihoods of more than 3 million vendors, shops
and small manufacturers, as well as more than 10 million employees in the
industry. It would be difficult for us to compete with state-backed Chinese
investors and businesses,” said Huang Kuang-yi (黃光藝), spokesperson of an
alliance of local retailers and manufacturers.
The Democratic Front Against Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement
organized a press conference outside the Legislative Yuan’s conference room,
where the hearing took place, calling for a renegotiation of the agreement and
more public hearings in light of new findings about the agreement.
Information from different government agencies on which sectors will be
liberalized appears to be inconsistent, raising concern over possible flaws in
the bilateral negotiation process, alliance spokesperson Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強)
For example, Taiwan is expected to liberalize commissioner agents’ services
and protect franchising services under the category of distribution services, as
regulated by the UN Provisional Central Product Classification (聯合國中央產品分類暫行版),
according to the specific commitments listed in the agreement, he said.
However, information provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs states that
Taiwan would protect commissioner agents’ services and liberalize franchising
services, he said.
“With flaws like these, we should renegotiate the agreement,” Lai said.
At a press conference held simultaneously with the hearing, TSU Legislator
Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said that the agreement was not reciprocal, as Taiwan will
have to liberalize almost its entire retail and wholesale sectors to Chinese
investment, but Beijing will not offer the same treatment to Taiwanese investors
“China will only liberalize part of its cross-border services and commercial
presence to Taiwan,” Hsu said.
Reciprocity is crucial for Taiwan’s retail and wholesale sector, which
accounted for 28.6 percent of the nation’s GDP last year, he said.