Special panel votes to revoke ‘no haste, be patient’ policy

The China Post staff and CNA

An economic advisory council panel yesterday agreed that cross-strait trade and investment policies must be governed under the principle of “active opening, effective management.” The cross-strait affairs panel decided to invalidate the term “no haste, be patient,” which is the name of the cross-strait investment policy.

Under the spirit of “active opening, effective management,” the panel suggested, Taiwan should allow direct commercial links with the mainland and gradually open the island to mainland capital. The panel met for the last time yesterday ahead of the Presidential Economic Development Advisory Council’s full-session conference later this month.

In the past meetings, the panel has suggested a series of measures aimed at relaxing trade and investment links between Taiwan and mainland China.

Most noteworthy are measures easing the limit on investment in the mainland, and allowing mainland investment in Taiwan’s property market. Many investment consulting companies yesterday hailed Economics Minister Lin Hsin-yi’s proposal to open direct trade links between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait after both sides are admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Lin expressed his support for the idea in a written report presented Saturday at a preparatory meeting of the cross-strait affairs panel. It was the first time that Lin had made a concrete suggestion on the opening of direct cross-strait trade and allowing more mainland Chinese products to enter the Taiwan market.

Under current law, cross-strait trade must be conducted via a third country or area.

Tin Yu-chia, president of International Investment Trust Co. Ltd., said that the opening of cross-strait trade will have a negative impact on Taiwan’s agricultural sector as a result of an influx of cheap farm products from the mainland and claimed that some 200,000 farmers will lose their jobs.

Some industries, such as the automobile, tire, electrical appliance, heavy electrical machinery, paper and textile industries are expected to lose their competitive edge after the opening of cross-strait trade, Tin said.

However, he went on, other sectors, such as banking, securities, insurance, oil products, retail marketing, telecommunications, and electronic components are expected to gain from the opening, as they can get access to the huge market. Please see POLICY on page

Some investment consulting companies predicted that after the opening of direct cross-strait trade links, direct transport links will follow, which are expected to reduce significantly the transport costs for local industries and also to boost the stock market.

During a preparatory meeting ahead of late-August’s council conference, Lin said the island’s shipping and air industries had prepared for the start of a direct cross Taiwan Strait trade link long before.

Lin said direct cross-strait shipping and air links would help cut transport time and costs.

Most shipping operators, eyeing the trade potential after opening direct cross-strait links, began jockeying for better positions a long time ago.

Industry representatives noted that the market potential of mainland China has attracted worldwide attention following its economic reform policy.

Statistics show that annual trade in the mainland has grown by an average of more than 10 percent annually over recent years, with the percentage of trade between Taiwan and mainland China even higher.

The scale of mainland China’s container market is even more stunning. As of the end of 2,000, it had reached 10 million TEUs (twenty-feet equivalent units).

Tempted by such rosy prospects, Taiwan shipping companies such as Evergreen Marine Corp. and Yangming Marine Transport Corp. set up representative offices six or seven years ago in the mainland.