20131126 Service pact signed before assessments done
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Service pact signed before assessments done

By Lee Yu-hsin and Stacy Hsu / Staff reporter, with staff writer

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) accused President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration of signing the controversial cross-strait service trade agreement with China “with its eyes closed,” citing five government agencies’ assessment reports on the treaty’s economic impacts that were completed only after the accord was inked in June.

During cross-strait negotiations on the treaty, the government entrusted six government agencies with assessing the agreement’s potential impacts on the nation’s economy and workers: the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), the Ministry of Culture, the Financial Supervisory Commission, the Council of Agriculture and the Council of Labor Affairs, Hsu said on Sunday.

“Only two of the Mainland Affairs Council’s three externally commissioned assessment reports were concluded before the inking of the treaty, both in February,” Hsu said.

Hsu said the last was an analysis of the opening of cross-strait service sectors in terms of defensive strategies, which was commissioned to the Commerce Development Research Institute in July last year for a fee of NT$3 million (US$101,000), but was not yet finished.

As for the MOEA, Hsu said its Bureau of Foreign Trade’s externally commissioned evaluation report on the agreement’s potential impacts on the nation’s overall economy and industrial developments was completed in July, while the assessment report on the potential impacts of trade liberalization on the country’s financial service sector commissioned by the ministry’s Department of Commerce was not finished until earlier this month.

Hsu said the reports by the other four agencies were all completed after the treaty’s signing on June 21.

“Inking a trade agreement with China when there were only two impact assessment reports to refer to was like signing the treaty with our eyes closed. The Ma administration’s handling of the matter has made the nation’s service sectors and workers vulnerable to the threat of Chinese capital, and a treaty inked without a legitimate and rational foundation must not be ratified,” Hsu said.

Hsu said the TSU would not let even one of the agreement’s clauses clear the legislature and had planned to mobilize supporters to rally outside the legislature when the accord was being reviewed item-by-item as a warning to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers not to disregard the will of the people.

The treaty, which is still pending approval by the legislature, has been the subject of widespread criticism from representatives of concerned service sectors, civic groups and opposition parties due to what they describe as a lack of transparency in the agreement’s negotiation and signing processes.

They have labeled the treaty a “back-room deal” between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party and have demanded it be renegotiated.

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