EDITORIAL The PRC-Taiwan pact will hurt us

Published by rudy Date posted on April 22, 2010

It’s very true, as the National Economic Development Authority warns, the Philippines will be hurt economically by the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan (which still calls itself the ROC or Republic of China). The ECFA draft could be be signed in June.

Since Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou took office in 2008, the province and China have started forging closer ties and signing agreements, the most comprehensive of which is the ECFA, a kind of free-trade pact.

NEDA Planning Director Dennis Arroyo told a recent press conference that the ECFA will disadvantage the Philippines.

The first hit the Philippines will suffer is the relocation of some Taiwan investors from our country to mainland China. This means the Filipinos in those businesses will lose their jobs.

Another effect Mr. Arroyo sees is job loss for OFWs in Taiwan. There are about 94,000 OFWs there. Firms that relocate to China will no longer need our OFWs.

The operationalization of the PRC-Taiwan ECFA could also result in fewer tourists coming to the Philippines from Taiwan. Mr. Arroyo pointed out that Taiwan tourist arrivals here fell by 14.7 percent in 2009. This was not just because of the global meltdown but by the liberalization of travel and the opening of direct flights between Taiwan cities and mainland cities.

In the short term, Arroyo said, the Philippines should continue its aggressive marketing to attract more Taiwanese tourists.

In stemming the tide of relocations from the Philippines, Mr. Arroyo urged the President (and the Cabinet members concerned) to take steps to pinpoint which of the 135 Taiwan firms in the Philippines are considering relocation to mainland China so we in the Philippines can take corresponding measures.

“We will also find out what factories in Taiwan are top employers of OFWs and check if these factories are planning to transfer to mainland China,” Arroyo said. He also said the Philippines should know how many OFWs are endangered and then find ways to find them other jobs.

The long-term future is Greater China

Mr. Arroyo gave an important reminder. It is not Taiwan by itself thatis the long-term future. “We should remember that China, with its 1.3 billion population, is really the future. So we should look at the greater China area, meaning mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau for more investments, more tourism, more exports on the longer term,” he said.
TECO head’s remarks

How close Beijing and Taipeh have become since President Ma Ying-Jeou’s accession to office was confirmed in the speech given by the head of the Taipeh Economic and Cultural Office (TECO), Ambassador Donald Lee, at the recent Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) meeting. Ambassador Lee said:

Since President Ma took office in May 2008, my government has been taking pragmatic policies to improve the cross-strait relations. On the one hand, we extended our goodwill to mainland China by the practice of “Diplomatic Truce.” On the other hand, we have been dedicated and successful in resuming cross-strait dialogue and negotiations that were discontinued for 10 years. The media to reconnect Mainland China and Taiwan is “The 1992 Consensus.” Under that consensus reached in 1992 in Singapore, both sides accept the idea of “One China, respective interpretations.” “One China” to PRC is “the People’s Republic of China” established in 1949 while “One China” to Taiwan means “the Republic of China” established in 1912.

in other words, the ROC is 37 years older than PRC. In fact, next year we are going to celebrate the ROC’s 100th founding anniversary.

In addition to the resumption of dialogue, we have, on equal footing, signed 12 agreements with mainland China over the past two years, which include widespread issues like postal service, sea and air transport, food safety, financial cooperation, investment, and judicial assistance. We have seen the significant changes in the bilateral exchanges between the two sides that we could not even imagine ten years ago. Nowadays, there are 270 direct flights every week between Taiwan and mainland China. On any single day, there are more than one million Taiwanese people working, studying, traveling or residing in mainland China.

Future: Continuous peace and prosperity
The bilateral relations between ROC and PRC have been improving step by step in a climate of stability. Before, the Taiwan Strait was one of the three most probable flashpoints for staging war in the world. Through our efforts to improve the cross-strait relations, we have made Taiwan a responsible stakeholder in the international community and a peacemaker. The warming relations between Taiwan and mainland China has resulted in greater security and peace in the Taiwan Strait, in the region, and in the world as well.

But that is not enough! For Taiwan’s sustainable development and the completion of economic normalization with mainland China, President Ma would like to exploit the advantages of Taiwan and mainland China to transform Taiwan into a regional springboard, a global center for innovation, an economic and trade hub in the Asia-Pacific region, an operations headquarters for Taiwan companies worldwide, and a regional headquarters for foreign companies.

In this regard, we are currently negotiating the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which is an FTA (free trade agreement) in its nature, with mainland China. It is estimated that the negotiation will be completed and a draft agreement will be concluded sometime around June this year.

This agreement will increase bilateral trade and protect Taiwan investments and intellectual property rights, and will at the same time boost the willingness of foreign companies to invest in Taiwan. The framework will serve as a driving force to further deepen Taiwan’s economic relations with mainland China. Finally it will result in continuous peace and prosperity. –Manila Times

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