Early harvest list begins to show the real damage, DPP parades against ECFA

The DPP’s ECFA Subcommittee issued a statement in response to the “early harvest list” produced in the June 24th meeting between the vice chairmen of the Straits Exchange Foundation and ARATS.

From the contents released so far by Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, the “early harvest list” produces no realistic timeline that highlights when the liberalization of goods and services will take place. The list also proves that President Ma Ying-jeou’s previous promises on protecting against Chinese goods and workers from entering Taiwan were unfounded.

Based on a recent survey conducted by the DPP regarding the public’s views on ECFA, nearly 70% of the public said they were still unclear about the contents of the agreement. The survey also reflected the fact that the majority of the public were concerned that, after ECFA is signed, the problems of unemployment, wage reduction and wealth gap will worsen.

Julian Kuo, spokesperson of the DPP ECFA Subcommittee, said that Taiwan’s previous negotiations under WTO included an open timeline, and it was expected that the Ma Administration would use the same standard to show an honest approach to the ECFA process.

President Ma had also made a previous promise that ECFA would bring great economic benefits for Taiwan and it was imperative to sign the agreement in order to “save Taiwan’s economy”. The DPP ECFA Subcommittee says that the “early harvest list”, however, will only benefit large enterprises while mid-sized and small companies will bear the early losses.

“The government continues to emphasize that ECFA’s monetary income from the ‘early harvest list’ is greater than China, but this ‘early harvest income’ mainly favors the larger industries and overlooks the ‘early losses’ of Taiwan’s mid-size and traditional industries,” Kuo said.

In regards to President Ma’s promise that Chinese labor will not enter Taiwan, the “early harvest list” shows that it will further liberalize 9 service industries from China. The DPP ECFA Subcommittee says that it was unclear how the government planned to prevent Chinese investment firms from bringing their own white-collar workers into Taiwan as there are already 100 items in the service industry that are liberalized under a government plan.

Furthermore, the DPP ECFA Subcommittee said it was problematic that ECFA models after the CEPA between China and Hong Kong, which paved the way for a “One China” market.

“In the ECFA agreement, an ECFA Economic Cooperation Council will be established and it will include departments for follow-up and dispute settlements, all of which are outside executive, legislative and judicial oversights,” Kuo said.

“When ASEAN Plus One only incorporates a negotiating side without any follow-up or dispute settlement segments, the DPP questions why Taiwan has agreed to set up a model that creates a One China market like CEPA instead of following what China is setting up with ASEAN Plus One.”

The DPP has repeatedly expressed its concerns about ECFA to the Ma Administration, calling on the government to provide better explanation of the contents of the agreement and make the process more transparent. As this is an important topic for the livelihood of Taiwanese citizens, the DPP and the TSU along with civic organizations have called for a referendum on ECFA, but has been turned town by the Executive Yuan’s Referendum Review Committee.

Turning to action, the DPP organized a major parade on June 26 to rally for a referendum on ECFA. In collaboration with the TSU and civic organizations representing labor, farmers and disadvantaged groups, the parade was held with hundreds of thousands of people in attendance and led by the DPP’s Big-5 election candidates: Tsai Ing-wen, Chen Chu, Su Tseng-chang, Su Chia-chuan and Lai Ching-te. Present at the parade were also Former Vice President Annette Lu, Former Premiers Frank Hsieh and You Si-kun.

Prior to the rally, DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen said that the DPP is determined to stand against the government on ECFA.

“The DPP has been very clear from the beginning that the government has been pushing for ECFA too soon, and if the government really wants to carry it out, there are still many measures and people’s concerns concerning which the government has not responded,” Tsai said.

“If ECFA creates a commercial, economic and unemployment catastrophe that would produce major problems in our politics and civic society, the DPP will definitely stand opposed to ECFA.”

Chair Tsai also mentioned that the Ma Administration has placed all of its focus on the “early harvest list”, and this is an “irresponsible way to handle the issue”, she said.