From ECFA to TPP: Taiwan's Way Out
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 28, 2012
Summary: Taiwan faces two main challenges and opportunities. One. Can Taiwan maintain peaceful and stable cross-Strait coopetition? Two. Can Taiwan cope with globalization and participate in regional economic integration? Taiwan's economic way out and Taiwan's political way out are one and the same. Politics and economics must travel down the same road. There must be no contradiction between the two. They must live in harmony. They need not clash. Only this will enable us to go from ECFA to TPP.
Full Text below:
The recent economic summit was all about finding a way out for Taiwan. Taiwan faces two main challenges and opportunities. One. Can Taiwan maintain peaceful and stable cross-Strait coopetition? Two. Can Taiwan cope with globalization and participate in regional economic integration? The answer: Taiwan's way out is to go from ECFA to TPP.
Cross-Strait coopetition is inseparable from globalization, regionalization, and liberalization. Taiwan cannot globalize, regionalize, and liberalize without the Chinese Mainland. Taiwan's coopetition with the Mainland requires cross-Strait peace. Taiwan must participate in regional economic integration. It must also participate in the "Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement" (TPP) as a counterweight to the interdependence concomitant with its cross-Strait relationship.
The recent summit reached a consensus: Without cross-Strait peace, without the "cross-strait economic cooperation framework agreement" (ECFA), Taiwan cannot promote regional economic integration with other economies. Taiwan's failure to participate in regional economic integration could undermine cross-Strait coopetition and cross-Strait peace. Even summit panelists from the United States, Europe, and Japan agree.
Cross-Strait coopetition and regional economic integration co-exist and compete. Taiwan requires peaceful coexistence in cross-Strait political and economic relations. Taiwan also needs to participate in regional economic integration. Taiwan must turn around and use regional economic integration to stabilize cross-Strait political and economic relations. Without peaceful and stable cross-Strait political relations, Taiwan's economy has no way out. Taiwan's economy needs a way out, one compatible with cross-Strait relations and Taiwan's international relations. If Taiwan has no economic way out, then it has no political way out. Conversely, if it has no political way out, then it has no economic way out.
Cross-Strait coopetition and regional economic integration co-exist and compete. This is not something Taiwan can choose to accept or reject. Taiwan has no choice in the matter. We must face challenges and opportunities. Cross-Strait coopetition has persisted for over 20 years. Even during Lee Teng-hui's "avoid haste, be patient" era, Taiwan was never free of the Mainland's gravitational field. This is a truth that Taiwan must face. In regional economic integration, Taiwan's competitors, including South Korea, are signing free trade agreements (FTAs). The fear is that Taiwan will not be able to sign them. Not signing is not an option. Not signing equals marginalization.
Taiwan has signed ECFA with the Chinese Mainland. It is attempting to sign FTAs with other economies. Taiwan has economic considerations. Taiwan also has political considerations. Economic and trade exchanges with the Mainland improve cross-Strait political relations. This is essential if we want to sign FTAs, establish an international platform, or take advantage of international trade and economic ties to enhance Taiwan's political security.
The Ma administration has laid out its "Taiwan's Political and Economic Roadmap." It starts with ECFA, and moves from ECFA to FTAs, to a Kaohsiung Free Trade Zone, to TPP, and eventually a Taiwan Free Trade Island. It is a way out that serious leaders in the ruling and opposition parties should consider. We must avoid economic marginalization. We must also avoid political isolation and ostracism. If TPP is established but with Taiwan outside its political and economic realm, the consequences will become clear soon enough.
Economic opening and political liberalization are strange bedfellows. Refusing economic openness makes it impossible to enhance competitiveness. But implementing economic openness could make economic survival difficult. The economic competition could be overwhelming. For Taiwan, a political and economic way out means that political liberalization must succeed. It is a path of no return. Failure is not an option.
Taiwan has no choice. It must take this route. Will this route enable us to reach our destination? That depends upon the ruling and opposition parties. They share responsibility. If the Ma administration cannot do it, then the Democratic Progressive Party must. Alas, the DPP insists that the Kaohsiung Free Trade Zone "sells out Taiwan." How can it be expected to support TPP? How can it be expected to support a Taiwan Free Trade Island?
The road from ECFA to TPP is strewn with severe external obstacles. The journey will be impossibly arduous. Blue vs. Green bickering on Taiwan has no end in sight. If anything, it is intensifying. If so, we can forget our dreams. We reiterate our plea. If Taiwan wishes to take this route, bipartisanship is essential. Summit panelists were unanimous. End vicious infighting. End internal bickering. Morris Chang called for ruling and opposition party consensus on foreign policy. Former Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hong Chi-chang called on opposition parties to be rational, responsible, and loyal.
Taiwan's economic way out and Taiwan's political way out are one and the same. Politics and economics must travel down the same road. There must be no contradiction between the two. They must live in harmony. They need not clash. Only this will enable us to go from ECFA to TPP.