Monday, June 16, 2014

Import of Chinese agricultural products harmful to domestic industries

Import of Chinese agricultural products harmful to domestic industries

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

An alliance of groups against establishing free economic pilot zones protests outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times

Several academics, farmers and civic groups yesterday said that the government’s plan to allow agricultural products to be imported from China to free economic pilot zones for food processing would seriously harm the nation’s agriculture and farmers.
With the draft special act governing the proposed free economic pilot zones to be reviewed during the ongoing extra legislative session, academics, farmers and civic group members protested in front of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, criticizing the draft act for allowing “value-added agriculture” to take place in the zones.
The Taiwan Rural Front said five articles in the draft act would seriously damage the nation’s agricultural output value and sustainability, ruin the credibility of “made in Taiwan” (MIT) products, as well as endanger consumers’ food safety if they are passed.
The nation’s food self-sufficiency rate stands at about 30 percent, which is relatively low compared with other nations, the group said, adding that self-sufficiency rates of about 70 percent in the UK, nearly 90 percent in Germany and about 42 percent in Japan, show that these free-trade nations still view domestic agriculture and food safety as important issues.
National Chung Hsing University economist Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said the articles about value-added agriculture would allow banned agricultural products to be imported from China and processed in the zones and sold as MIT products.
Although Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) has said 830 agricultural products from China are still prohibited, they would be allowed to enter the pilot zones and be processed as products for export under the the current pilot zone plan, Chen Chi-chung said, adding that other products made with Chinese agricultural ingredients can still be sold in the domestic market.
“If agricultural products are allowed to be imported under zero-tariff, then what food-processing company would still choose to use domestic food ingredients?” Chen Chi-chung asked.
Jang Show-ling (鄭秀玲), professor and chair of National Taiwan University’s Department of Economics, said if the products made of imported ingredients can bear the MIT brand for marketing, it may ruin the credibility of MIT products and endanger food safety, which may even be harmful to the nation’s food-processing industry in the long run.
National Taiwan University Department of Agricultural Economics chairman Roger Woo (吳榮杰) said the contents of the draft act are “cruel” to farmers and only beneficial to a small number of people.
Wu Chia-ling (吳佳玲), a rice farmer from Yilan County, said allowing food products made with Chinese agricultural ingredients to be sold under the MIT brand would force Taiwanese farmers to endorse agricultural products from China.
Hung Hsiang (洪箱), a watermelon farmer from Miaoli County, said Taiwanese farmers can process their grow and process their own food products, but the government is incapable of protecting domestic agriculture, so farmers want Chen Bao-ji to step down as minister.
They also urged the government to exclude articles related to “value-added agriculture” from the draft special act governing the proposed free economic pilot zones.

No comments:

Post a Comment