The Ministry of Economic Affairs is holding a series of seminars on the
cross-strait service trade agreement at some universities nationwide to
explain the government’s stance on the pact. On Tuesday last week, it
held the second seminar at National Taipei University.
At the seminar, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh
(杜紫軍) said that the signing of the service trade agreement is expected
to bring a production value of NT$12 billion to Taiwanese enterprises.
Hearing this number, students said that if that is the case, why then
did the government increase business stimulus funds from NT$95 billion
to NT$98.2 billion after the agreement was signed? This addition of
NT$3.2 billion to the funds appears to be a clear admission that the
pact will bring more shortcomings than advantages.
Let’s put aside all the non-economic factors for now.
What Taiwanese are trying to find out is — since the ministry is
claiming that the agreement will result in a production value increase
of NT$12 billion — how long it will take to generate this production
value: a day, a year or an entire lifetime? Judging from Duh’s answer,
this seems to be the total additional production value resulting from
the trade pact for at least the years between 2010 and 2019. The basis
for this reasoning is that the allotted funds are intended to aid the
industries that will suffer a negative impact from the agreement during
this decade-long period.
This leads to the question of why the agreement will
create an industrial production value of just NT$12 billion over 10
years? The government should be giving serious consideration to what
assistance industry needs today. What has it done to help businesses
push for industrial transformation? Is it really worth signing a highly
controversial service trade agreement that is only expected to create a
production value of a mere NT$1.2 billion yearly over the 10-year
If the government suspends the industrial water supply
for just a single day, the financial losses to the high-tech industry
would exceed NT$1.2 billion.
The problem is either that the government is
incompetent or it is a result of the industries’ lack of
Surprisingly, the ministry is trying to justify the
agreement by claiming that it will bring an industrial production value
of NT$12 billion and is simultaneously trying to use this insignificant
potential payout to confuse student protesters.
It is highly questionable whether the government has a
complete grasp of all the advantages and disadvantages that the pact
might bring — issues that will affect not only the economy, but also
many other aspects of society — and so it should really stop questioning
whether those who are opposed to the agreement truly understand it.
Then again, the government has never wanted us to
understand the agreement in the first place.