KMT and DPP Must Get Back to TIFA
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 7, 2012
Summary: The DPP has agreed to allow the importation of U.S. beef in accordance with international standards. The sole remaining obstacle to Taipei and Washington signing TIFA has been eliminated. This is the beginning of KMT and DPP consensus on TIFA. The Republic of China is under threat, both from within and without. The KMT and DPP must work together to defend the Republic of China and to save the nation. They can begin with TIFA.
Full Text below:
The DPP has agreed to allow the importation of U.S. beef in accordance with international standards. The sole remaining obstacle to Taipei and Washington signing TIFA has been eliminated. This is the beginning of KMT and DPP consensus on TIFA. Its significance is twofold.
One. TIFA (Taiwan-US Trade Investment Framework Agreement) may be the only major national policy proposal that the DPP is not determined to block to the bitter end. When ECFA was signed the DPP denounced it as "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan." It blocked it to the bitter end. But meetings over TIFA began during the Chen Shui-bian era. The DPP is not about to object to improved Taipei-Washington relations. It has no reason to object.
Two. If TIFA is signed, economic and trade relations between Taipei and Washington will improve. More importantly, so will political relations. If TIFA goes smoothly, Taipei will find it easier to sign other FTAs. Looking further ahead, TIFA may pave the way for Taipei to participate in the TPP (Pan-Pacific Partnership). It may enable Taiwan to become a Free Trade Island. Therefore, TIFA is not merely a step that will improve relations between Taipei and Washington. It is an important first step for Taipei's global strategy.
In other words, if Taipei's goal is to make Taiwan a "Free Trade Island" then it must proceed from ECFA to TIFA to other FTAs to the Kaohsiung Free Trade Zone to TPP to a Free Trade Island. This is the step by step path it must take. This path has three meanings for Taiwan.
One. Taiwan has lost its way. TIFA will restore long-lost hope. The public will finally have a long range goal. A Free Trade Island will offer the public a vision everyone can work toward. It will show the way to achieve this goal. TIFA is the key.
Two. This goal and this path can change Taiwan. Taiwan has long been the victim of internal political bickering. TIFA can give Taiwan an economic perspective and an economic goal. It can offer a clear path. TIFA is the key.
Three. Joining the TPP wiil enable Taiwan to become a Free Trade Island. It will resolve Taiwan's economic and trade problems. It will show the way we must take. More importantly, it is the only way Taiwan can avoid marginalization on the international stage. The inevitable consequence of trade and economic marginalization is political marginalization. Taipei must use TPP and Taiwan's status as a Free Trade Island to become part of the international trade system. This will integrate it into the international security system. TIFA is the key.
In sum, we hope that the KMT and DPP will promptly end months of internal bickering. The signing of TIFA can be the basis for cooperation. Let us go from ECFA to TIFA to other FTAs to the Kaohsiung Free Trade Zone to TPP to a Free Trade Island. Let this path be the basis by which political parties compete. Let the parties forgo the vicious infighting that results in wheel-spinning. Competition between political parties will of course continue to compete. But one must know for what and for whom one is fighting for. We are fighting for Taiwan. We want it to become a Free Trade Island.
The Democratic Progressive Party is in coopetition with the KMT. It can play an important role. One. The DPP must not oppose TIFA. But it can safeguard Taiwan's interests during negotiations. Two. TIFA's political and economic basis is the same as the political and economic basis for ECFA, other FTAs, the Kaohsiung Free Trade Zone, TPP, and a Free Trade Island. Since the DPP supports TIFA, it must not oppose this underlying political and economic basis. Three. Cross-Strait goodwill and mutual trust is an important basis for this system. Therefore the DPP must confront this system. It must rethink its cross-strait policy.
Finally, we solemly suggest that such a path may be the only political and economic way out. It is a difficult path, one fraught with risk. Becoming a Free Trade Island requires, in Vincent Siew's words, liberalizing the economic environment while upgrading the industrial structure. This is no easy task. But if the economic environment is not liberalized, we cannot become competitive. Our industrial structure will not be of high enough quality. It will not be able to withstand the competition. Therefore, the KMT and the DPP must confront this situation. They must reach a consensus. One. This path requires bipartisanship. Two. The two parties must reach a bipartisan consensus on cross-Strait policy. .
The Republic of China is under threat, both from within and without. The KMT and DPP must work together to defend the Republic of China and to save the nation. They can begin with TIFA.