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Taiwan free to sign FTAs: MAC head

2010/04/08 21:24:57

Taipei, April 8 (CNA) Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) ChairwomanLai Shin-yuan said Thursday that Taiwan is free to negotiate and signfree trade agreements (FTAs) with foreign countries without the needfor China's approval.

Lai made the remarks at a legislative session while answeringquestions raised by Chiu Yi-ying of the opposition DemocraticProgressive Party (DPP) , who said China will still seek to blockTaiwan's efforts to ink FTAs with its trade partners even if aplanned cross- strait economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA)is signed.

Lai said Taiwan is seeking to forge the ECFA with China becauseit has been the country's largest export market for the past sevenyears and is the one that is most hotly sought-after by all otherleading trading countries.

In the meantime, Taiwan is redoubling its efforts to seek FTAswith the world's major economic players, Lai went on.

"Both sides (Taiwan and China) should take into account eachother's concerns in negotiating the ECFA.... and I believe China darenot say that you (Taiwan) should not sign FTAs after the cross-straitdeal is signed,'" Lai said.

Earlier that same day, the Legislative Yuan's Interior AffairsCommittee voted down a motion initiated by several DPP lawmakers toinclude a phrase that reads: "China should not stand in the way ofTaiwan's signing of FTAs with other counties" in the text of theplanned trade pact.

The DPP lawmakers had asked that the pact should be in bothChinese and English, with "agreement" being in the official wordingof the pact rather than "arrangement, " which is the word used in thetrade deal between Hong Kong and China -- the Closer EconomicPartnership Arrangement.

The DPP-led pan-green camp has been vigorously opposed to theECFA over concerns that it will increase Taiwan's economic dependenceon China and cause job losses in some local sectors.

President Ma Ying-jeou, who doubles as chairman of the rulingKuomintang, is scheduled to hold a TV debate on the ECFA with DPPChairperson Tsai Ing-wen May 25.

(By Liu Cheng-ching and Bear Lee)