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Central News Agency – Trade deal the most important step in cross-strait ties: U.S. expert

in Program

Washington, June 29 (CNA) The
landmark trade agreement — economic cooperation framework agreement
(ECFA) — signed between Taiwan and China this week is the most
important step in the history of cross-Taiwan Strait relations, a U.S.
expert on Taiwan issues said Tuesday.

“But the lasting impact
will depend on where ECFA leads in terms of mutually beneficial
economic relations, and on the creation of a framework for peaceful
development of cross-strait ties over a long period of time,” Alan
Romberg, a distinguished fellow and director of the East Asia Program
at the Henry L. Stimson Center, told the CNA.

Under the trade
agreement, which was signed Tuesday in Chongqing, China, the tariffs
for 539 Taiwanese goods and 267 Chinese products will be reduced to
zero within the two years after the pact takes effect.

While
the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou has hailed the outcome as
beneficial to Taiwan, there have been concerns that Chinese products
and workers may flood into Taiwan.

The opposition camp are
arguing that the ECFA will benefit only a small minority of Taiwan
businesses, mostly big companies hoping for easier access to the
Chinese market, and alleged that the agreement will lead to the
creation of a “one China” market and undermine Taiwan’s sovereign
status.

Romberg said many of the arguments against the ECFA are “long on political rhetoric and short on underlying economic analysis.”

Nonetheless, he said, there are questions that will have to be answered
by the Ma administration, both about the benefits to Taiwan’s economy
and how anyone hurt by ECFA will be helped.

“The opposition has
every right and responsibility to hold the administration’s feet to the
fire to explain and justify the agreement,” Romberg said. (By Jorge Liu
and Y.F. Liu) ENDITEM/cs

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