Taiwan has little time to tackle new FTA threat: scholars


TAIPEI — Taiwan is facing a major economic threat and needs to speed up trade talks with its major trade partners to shield itself from a proposed free trade bloc comprising China, Japan and South Korea, scholars said yesterday.

“The next two years are very critical to Taiwan,” Liu Da nien, a research fellow at the Taipei-based Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research, wrote in an opinion piece in the Chinese-language United Daily News.

Though no timetable has been set for the three economic powerhouses to set up a free trade bloc, Liu said they could very well reach an agreement within two yeas.

China and South Korea announced earlier that they intend to finish negotiations on a bilateral trade pact within two years, while Japan, under pressure of being left out, will do its utmost to promote the three-way trade pact as quickly as possible, Liu said.

The leaders of the three Northeast Asian powers agreed on May 13 at a fifth trilateral summit that they will start negotiations this year on a free trade accord.

An agreement would create the world’s third-largest economic trading bloc, with economic activity worth US$12.34 trillion, or 20 percent of the world’s total gross domestic product.

Such a pact would also enable South Korea, Taiwan’s major trade rival, to become the first country in the world to have signed free trade agreements with the world’s four major markets — the United States, the European Union, China and Japan.