Challenge Those Who Challenge the Taiwan Japan Investment Agreement
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 29, 2011
Summary: The Taiwan Japan Investment Agreement has been signed. It must now be sent to the Legislative Yuan. The relevant procedures must be followed, enabling it to take effect. The Legislative Yuan has no reason to reject this ground-breaking agreement between Taipei and Tokyo. Taipei can use this precedent to increase its international economic and trading space. It can use it to attract foreign investment. Who has the heart to belittle this investment agreement between Taipei and Tokyo? Opposition motivated by sheer orneriness. Now that is something we truly do not need!
Full Text below:
On April 22, the Association of East Asian Relations and the Chinese Commerce and Cultural Exchange Association signed a cooperation agreement to protect investments between Taiwan and Japan. This is the first major breakthrough on trade and economic diplomacy since the two sides signed ECFA. It is also the most substantive agreement signed between Taipei and Tokyo since diplomatic relations were severed in 1972. The linkage between this agreement and ECFA is obvious. For the first time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was responsible for signing the agreement. This shows how much relations between Tokyo and Taipei have improved. The gains were hard-won. An agreement was far from assured. This is a happy milestone for Taipei in the international arena, where it has expanded its foreign relations. It deserves recognition. But domestic political struggles are vicious. Therefore it has become a target for criticism. Can political parties on Taiwan arrive at any sort of consensus? This agreement will be a litmus test. We will soon discover whether a consensus can be reached on this investment agreement between Taipei and Tokyo.
Some critics challenge the use of the English term "arrangement" for "agreement." Why not call it an agreement an agreement, instead of an arrangement? International agreements written in English are common. English is not the mother tongue for either the Republic of China or for Japan. Using English avoids an affront to the dignity of either nation. Using a single language rather than two languages-- Chinese and Japanese -- to sign this important document, avoids problems that arise when the text is changed. The benefits are obvious. In 1972 the first of two protocols were signed. In Chinese it was referred to as an agreement. The current document is consistent with the document signed then, which was referred to as an "arrangement." An international agreement can be referred to as an agreement or an arrangement. There is no difference. The DPP is splitting hairs. It is making much ado about nothing. Does the DPP really believe the Taiwan Japan investment agreement is not an international agreement? Its criticisms are pointless. They are as pointless as questions about why the Association for East Asian Relations and the Chinese Commerce and Cultural Exchange Association signed on behalf of the two parties.
Other critics demand to know why investors are defined on the Japanese side as "natural persons of Japanese nationality," but as "natural persons with Taiwan citizenship" on the Taiwan side. The fact is the agreement refers to the two sides as 台灣 / Taiwan and 日本 / Japan. These can be understood as geographical names. But they also allow the term "Taiwan" to appear. This was the greatest common denominator. Other critics said the name of the nation should have been the Republic of China. But in that case, there would have been no need for such terms as the "Association for East Asian Relations" and the "Chinese Commerce and Cultural Exchange Association." Would critics prefer that the two sides use terminology they consider acceptable, and not sign the agreement at all? Actually, for inhabitants of the global village, "citizen" is a considerably more progressive term than "national." An overweening preoccupation with sovereignty has left some critics mummified. This is one of the reasons Taiwan continues to spin its wheels and to go nowhere. Critics should listen to criticisms of their own criticisms. Are they binding Taiwan hand and foot? Are they making non-negotiable demands?
Others claim this agreement has little connection with ECFA, that it will not necessarily persuade Japanese capital to enter Taiwan as a prelude to venturing into the Chinese mainland. They say Tokyo and Beijing signed a similar agreement earlier. But for Japanese businessmen who entered the Chinese mainland directly but lost money, joint ventures with businessmen on Taiwan as a prelude to entering the Chinese mainland are an attractive option. The Taiwan Japan Investment Agreement addresses Japanese concerns about the lack of legal protections on Taiwan. Are critics saying that Taipei and Tokyo should even not bother signing an investment agreement? Does that make any sense? Taipei and Tokyo have signed a bilateral investment agreement. The next step is to negotiate and sign a bilateral trade agreement. Suppose the two sides had not signed ECFA earlier? Would Tokyo have begun consultations with Taipei during the second half of last year? Would it have signed the Taiwan Japan Investment Agreement? Whenever the DPP is out of office, no political or diplomatic success is ever deemed a success. This is probably the most regrettable aspect of DPP criticism. Given the DPP's attitude, Taiwan is unlikely to ever achieve consensus.
As international investment protection agreements go, the Taiwan Japan investment agreement is considered a rare masterpiece. It covers norms local governments ought to follow when placing levies on foreign governments, including direct and indirect levies. It covers the prompt collection of compensation, adequate and effective compensation, and the fair market value of compensation. It covers International Chamber of Commerce arbitration and ad hoc arbitration, in accordance with United Nations rules or other agreed upon cross-border arbitration. It is simultaneously idealistic and pragmatic. It is no exaggeration to describe it as exemplary.
The Taiwan Japan Investment Agreement has been signed. It must now be sent to the Legislative Yuan. The relevant procedures must be followed, enabling it to take effect. The Legislative Yuan has no reason to reject this ground-breaking agreement between Taipei and Tokyo. Taipei can use this precedent to increase its international economic and trading space. It can use it to attract foreign investment. Who has the heart to belittle this investment agreement between Taipei and Tokyo? Opposition motivated by sheer orneriness. Now that is something we truly do not need!