Trade pact could help service sector, hurt agriculture: official

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) could have a serious impact on Taiwan’s agricultural sector, but it could also significantly boost the nation’s industrial sector, a Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) official said yesterday. “A study shows that the value of Taiwan’s agricultural production could be decreased by US$2.4 billion if we joined the TPP,” Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Cho Shih-chao (卓士昭) said yesterday in the Legislative Yuan. But at the same time, Taiwan’s industrial sector will see a major boost from TPP participation, with production values for textile and chemical industries expected to increase by US$4.4 billion and US$2 billion respectively, he noted. The service sector’s production value, Cho said, will also benefit from the TPP with an US$11 billion growth forecast. The TPP is a multilateral free trade agreement that aims to liberalize economies in the region. The government hopes to join the TPP.

Joining the TPP should add an extra 1.46 percent of growth to Taiwan’s gross domestic product (GDP), Cho added, citing a study conducted by the Taipei-based Chung-Hua Institute for Economic Research (中華經濟研究院). “The advantages (of joining the TPP) outweigh the disadvantages,” Cho said, adding that Taiwan’s export-led economy makes its participation in regional economic integration imperative. In response to the possible impact on the nation’s agricultural sector, Cho said the Economic Ministry will work with the Council for Agriculture to come up with measures to offer assistance to farmers. Cho made the comments in response to lawmaker inquiries into the TPP during a question-and-answer session in the Legislative Yuan yesterday. Singapore, New Zealand Trade Deals to be Sealed Soon: Lin Meanwhile, fielding questions in the same legislative session with Cho, Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday that talks with Singapore and New Zealand on respective proposed economic partnership agreements are expected to be sealed soon. “I am optimistic that the deals with the two nations will be finalized by the first half of this year,” he noted. Since both Singapore and New Zealand are founding members of the TPP, Lin said signing a trade agreement with the two countries will give a huge boost to Taiwan’s bid to join the TPP.