Addressing concerns on whether policies toward mainland China would be adjusted after a subpar performance for the ruling party in recent local elections, Premier Wu Den-yih expressed on December 7 that the government will always follow policies in line with the principle of “putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people.” As for the proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with mainland China, the pact will be pursued as long as it is needed by the nation, supported by the public and overseen by the Legislature. The ECFA will therefore proceed as scheduled, added the premier, but at this point is still in need of wider public support.
President Ma Ying-jeou said that all negotiations and discussions on the ECFA must be conducted in an open and transparent manner in order to help the general public understand the benefits of the agreement. Before the ECFA is signed, officials will brief the Legislature on the contents of the pact. After signing, the agreement will be submitted to the law-making body for review and final approval.
Regarding concerns that the signing of the ECFA will adversely impact Taiwan’s industries, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) indicated that it plans to budget NT$95 billion to assist industries likely to be affected by the proposed pact over a 10-year period. The MOEA further expressed that the assistance would be divided into three phases. The first phase of industrial revitalization aims to upgrade and transform 12 industries (such as hosiery, undergarments, leather bags, towels and bedding), and is already in implementation.
The second phase of the plan will focus on structural adjustment. After signing an “early-harvest” list of selected goods and services, the two sides will negotiate an agreement on commodities trading. During those two to three years, the government will monitor the flow of goods across the strait and then strengthen guidance and assistance for businesses accordingly.
The third phase will consist of damage relief. The government will set up an inter-ministerial panel to assist afflicted industries with trade relief, provide them with low-interest loans and help workers find new jobs.