Saying that a responsible leader should inform the public about global trade and economic development trends and make the right decision for Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday defended the government’s actions regarding to the fledgling Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which was signed on Sunday by the 10 members of ASEAN plus Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The pact is due to take effect in the second half of next year.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Tsai said that Taiwan should develop more opportunities instead of placing all of its eggs in one basket, adding that both the government and private sector have planned for the signing of the RCEP.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
More than 70 percent of the nation’s exports to RCEP nations already face zero customs tax, she said.
The pact would have limited effect on the nation in the short term, as China imposes customs taxes or has promised to lower such taxes on most goods imported from Japan and South Korea, she said.
The government has helped Taiwanese businesspeople relocate their businesses to Southeast Asian nations through the New Southbound Policy, which has helped increase the market share of Taiwanese products in ASEAN nations, she said.
Tsai and her government have come under fire from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), including KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), who said that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would have to pay for failing to deliver on a promise to join the pact.
In a Facebook post, Chiang said that Tsai had pledged that Taiwan would join the agreement under her leadership, but she now says that the RCEP is not important.
“The DPP has governed the nation for five years, and Tsai is in her second term. Is she telling people now that all the money and resources her administration has spent in the past five years was so that the nation would join an unimportant economic pact?” he wrote.
Tsai has broken her promise to the people, and the DPP would have to be held accountable, he said, adding that it should not govern the country if it does not want to take responsibility for this matter.
The RCEP covers more than 2 billion people in 15 nations, which account for approximately 30 percent of global GDP, he said.
China and ASEAN are Taiwan’s two largest export destinations, and the nation’s economy would definitely be affected by its exclusion from the RCEP, he said.
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) wrote on Facebook that the 2014 Sunflower movement prevented Taiwan and China from signing a cross-strait service trade agreement, which has made it difficult for Taiwan to join the RCEP.
Tsai’s administration has equated joining the RCEP with identifying with China’s “one country, two systems” principle, Ma said.
The DPP is used to blaming China for everything, from deteriorating cross-strait relations to a regional economic partnership, he said.
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