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Taiwan: CECA, economic elixir or poison?

CECA? A new game console from Japan or another evil science project that is going to bring this world to an end? All wrong, but according to the Government, CECA is coming to save Taiwan's economy from drowning in global financial crisis and the greatest recession in 50 years. However, most people still have no idea what CECA is, and like all the other issues, it is quickly politicized as a new media battle ground set for the continuous fight between KMT, the ruling party, and DPP, the major opposition party.

CECA stands for Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, which is all about cutting tariff and accelerating cross-strait commerce. DPP strongly opposes signing CECA with China and says that this is another big step torwards the tragic reunification with Communists China, while KMT denies the accusation and defends CECA with the reason of rescuing Taiwan's worse economic performance ever.

Bloggers again try to ask key questions and dig into the issue in their own capacity. Ashinakhan asks “What is the relation between CECA and ASEAN+3 ?”

有一個觀念我覺得政府一直沒有向人民澄清,郤已經透過媒體放話搞的滿城風雨,就是:
CECA到底和東協+3有什麼關係?
媒體一直試圖植入我們腦袋裡的想法,是:
不簽CECA,我們就會被東協+3邊緣化
我一直沒搞懂的部分是,不簽CECA,台灣會怎麼樣被邊緣化呢?簽了CECA,又可以怎麼樣不被邊緣化呢?這是天下雜誌的FAQ告訴我們的東西:

因此,政府目前主要希望CECA簽署,台灣商品可以自由進入中國,再轉至東協10+3的其它自由貿易區國家,享有同樣的競爭條件。

搞了半天,CECA並不等於我們和東協之間自動享有零關稅的待遇,而是因為得要利用中國與東協的FTA去搞轉口?好吧,如果台灣真的自己沒辦法和東協簽FTA(原因呢?),而同時這把如意算盤打得通,而且中國願意對台灣無私無我的奉獻,那也是一椿好事。

There's a concept left unexplained by Government to the public, while the storm has already been all around on the media. The concept is: What is the relation between CECA and ASEAN+3? What the media try to implant in our brain is: If we don't sign CECA, we will be marginalized by ASEAN+3.
But what I don't get is how will Taiwan be marginalized if we don't sign, and how not to be if we sign? See the Faq from CW Magazine:

Therefore, right now the Government wants to sign CECA so that Taiwanese goods can enter China freely and then sell to the free trade zone inside countries listed in ASEAN+3 in order to share the same competitive conditions.

Round and round. So CECA does not equal to zero tariff between ASEAN+3 and us automatically, but it means that we can use the FTA between China and ASEAN to do entrepot trade. Alright, if Taiwan cannot sign FTA with ASEAN on our own(why?), and this method really works that China is willing to consecrate itself to Taiwan, why not?

Ashinakhan continues with another question:

可是,有沒有人聽過什麼叫Rule of Origin(原產地規則;RoO)?

東協之間的RoO要求是40%自製率才適用免稅。就我所知,中國和東協之間的FTA也適用同樣的規定。那麼,中國出口東協的商機,台灣滿打滿算也沒辦法吃超過四成。唯一能全額享受這個商機的辦法,就是把整個產業的根拔了,供應鏈全搬到中國去才能有競爭力。這樣能救台灣經濟?這樣能救台灣失業?我怕是台商加速西移,台灣的失業率以後都要從10%開始起跳!

But has anyone heard of the “Rule of Origin”?

The RoO inside ASEAN requires 40% of a product should be homemade. As far as I know, the rule is the same between China and ASEAN. So, the business opportunity of using China as a window to enter ASEAN market is never possible for Taiwan. The only way that one can benefit from this opportunity and to be competitive is to uproot the whole industry and move the supply chain to China. Is this the way to save Taiwan's economy? Is this the way to reduce Taiwan's unemployment rate? From my worrying perspective, Taiwanese businesses will move west(to China) faster and the unemployment rate will jump from 10%!

ChairmanCat writes:

近日在台灣政壇引起重大爭議的CECA, 到底要不要列入第三次江陳會的議題中,政府又不同調了。2月18日的新聞中,江丙坤說在第三次會談中不簽,但是到了2月24的新聞,高孔廉卻說CECA簽署可列入會談,顯然這個政策的推動,一方面要面對中國的壓力,另一方面反對黨又擺出不公投就反對到底的態度,顯然進退兩難了。

Should the highly controversial CECA in recent Taiwan's political forum be listed into the agenda of the third meeting between Jiang and Chen? The Government shows different attitudes. In the news on Feb 18, Jiang said that CECA will not be signed during the third meeting, but in the news on Feb 24, Gao said that CECA can be listed into agenda. Apparently the Government is selling this policy in a dilemma while facing pressure from China on one side and the fight-to-the-end-if-not-referendum attitude by the opposition party on another

And he goes on denying what some people say that CECA is a purely economic issue:

如果是個純經濟的議題,就不用涉機政府對政府的談判,也沒有簽約不簽約的問題。但是台灣和中國的政府,都刻意迴避政治面的聯想,但是處理手法卻是處處見政治。台灣參與亞太區域經濟合作機制何以唯有透過中國﹖這是政治還是經濟﹖

If this is a pure economic issue, then it should involves no government to government negotiation, nor the to-sign-or-not-to-sign question. But both Governments are painstakingly avoiding from political association while dealing with it politically at every spot. Why does Taiwan need to participate in ASEAN via China and China only? Is this a political affair or economic affair?

Squidy argues the ignorance of most Taiwanese people on CECA:

今天看到一份報紙說在台大學堂裡 大多數學生並不清楚CECA是啥

但問到說贊不贊成簽CECA 幾乎一半人都舉手贊成

我倒想問問這些學生 你舉手是怎樣 不清楚CECA 就只會跟著舉手嗎

I read a report on newspaper saying that most students studying in National Taiwan University have no idea what CECA is, but when they were asked about whether they favor it or not, almost half of them raised their hands supporting it.

I want to ask these students what the hell are you raising your hands for? You know nothing about it but you are in favor of it?

“NewsTalk”, the official blog of Public Television Service(PTS)'s political commentary program, discusses this topic and update many clear introduction slides(zh).

GoodMind explains the core concept of CECA and then asks who is blocking Taiwan from the beginning:

中國政府無視自由貿易的精神,硬是阻撓台灣與他國簽訂FTA,不讓台灣參與區域性自由貿易組織,台灣面對這樣的艱難處境已經不是一天兩天了,藉著CECA事件甚囂塵上,實在應該把這本帳翻出來好好算一算。

Chinese Government has such a long history defying the spirit of free trade by stalling Taiwan from signing FTA with other countries, and intercepting Taiwan from entering regional free trade organization. While the issue of CECA is getting attention from many people, we should clear up this debt.

Jack at Buycar feels puzzled:

我一直很不能理解,為什麼馬先生跟國民黨老是打這種『將自己的前途,賭在一個權柄操之在別人手上的政策上面』的算盤。

可是老太爺說了一句話讓我印象深刻:『現在台灣人想的就是救經濟,管它什麼名稱不名稱。』

I cannot understand why Mr. Ma always plays the game of “betting one's own future on a policy that is totally controlled by others”?

But the Old Grandpa said something to me that impressed me hard: “Taiwanese want their economy be saved right now, and who cares about the names and titles?”

ShoeiCheng reminds us President Ma's campaigns before elected:

選前口號一大堆,什麼633、陸客每日三千、股市兩萬點…如今一一跳票,經濟學人(Economist)還點名台灣是世界經濟第一爛,政府也不用出來說聲抱歉之類的,好像全部推給金融海嘯就沒事了,反正做得再差,總會有「愛馬士」跳出來說幾句:「錢都被阿扁A走了」(阿就算他A一百億都追回來,是救得了馬政府的腦殘嗎?)「馬英九才上任沒多久」(大嬸,都快一年了好嗎?總統任期只有四年啊!),內閣完全不用重組、調動,也是沒在怕的,完全執政就是這麼好用,阿不然你是要怎樣?

Before elected, Ma's slogans are flourishing, such as 633, 3000 tourists from China everyday, 20,000 points in to be reached in stock market…but now, all are still slogans, not to mention that Economist says that Taiwan's economy is the ugliest in the world. The Government never say sorry, they just say it is all because of the financial tsunami. No matter how bad the Government performs, there will be “adorers of Ma” jumping out and say things like “our money are all stolen by ex-President Chen!” (OK. Even if he did steal 10 billion from the country, can this amount of money save Ma from his stupidity? ), or “Ma just took this position not a long time ago” (Dear auntie, it is almost an year, OK? A President only got four years for god's sake!). The Cabin has no rearrangement or redeployment proposal and they get nothing to fear for. This is the wonder of a complete governance, or what else you want?

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