United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 2, 2016
Executive Summary: Economics is not a political game. When winter comes, those unprepared will be devastated. The PRC-ROK FTA has gone into effect in the icy cold of winter. Will the MTA continue to be falsely stigmatized, and come to naught? People should give the matter serious thought. They should realize that Tsai Ing-wen's “alternative path” leads to a mirage.
Full Text Below:
Time flies. Mainland China's FTAs with South Korea and Australia have gone into effect. Taiwan meanwhile, remains mired in political grievances, oblivious to the coming winter. No matter how bad the economic news, there is nary a ripple.
Australia's trade situation is very different from Taiwan's. It can be left out of the discussion. But trade between the Mainland and South Korea is highly similar to trade between the Mainland and Taiwan. The PRC-ROK FTA is certain to displace cross-Strait trade. That goes without saying. Once the FTA goes into effect, approximately 1650 trade items exported to the Mainland from Korea will immediately enjoy tariff free status. This far exceeds the 539 trade items on the ECFA early harvest list that enjoy tariff free status.
South Korea can expect to make approximately 20 billion USD in tariff free exports to the Mainland this year. By contrast, the STA led to massive protests against the MTA and lingering fear of the Mainland. The Mainland felt the need to look after its own industries. Therefore it refused to budge on petrochemicals, flat panels, automobiles, and machine tools. These are four major industries on Taiwan. Despite 12 rounds of negotiations, little progress was made. Since elections are approaching, the political foundation is gone, and the MTA faces an uncertain future.
One small consolation is that just before the PRC-ROK FTA went into effect, the WTO made its greatest leap in nearly two decades. Dozens of participating countries reached an Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and expanded the tariff reduction list. Taiwan's chief exports, ICT products, have benefited. Last year the 201 items on the "ITA2 List" had an export value of 90 billion USD. The lion's share was liquid crystal displays. Unfortunately, Taiwan's flat panel industry is fighting for its life. Worst of all, it was not included. The MTA is its sole lifeline.
ICT products are pillars of Taiwan's foreign trade. But the ITA and ITA2 eliminate only three trade barriers. Barriers standing in the way of the petrochemical, textile, and machinery industries also need to be eliminated. Bilateral negotiations must result in trade agreements and regional economic integration. For Taiwan, this is the only way out.
If Taiwan wishes to engage in global trade, it cannot bypass the Mainland. Put simply, the Mainland is the key to Taiwan's integration into the world economy. Mainland China is currently on the rise. The undeniable reality is that without the STA and MTA, Taiwan cannot take part in regional integration or sign trade agreements.
A long corridor lies ahead of Taiwan. The corridor includes one set of doors after another, every one of them closed. Taiwan must first open the door to Mainland China. Only then can it open the doors to the RCEP, TPP, and other regional free trade organizations. This is the only path available. The first door it must open is the STA and MTA. The key required to open every one of the doors, is the 1992 Consensus.
Taiwan is in deep trouble. Last year, young people ignorant about the global power structure and the realities of trade launched a student movement. People on Taiwan lost all reason. They simplistically equated world trade with "black box operations". In fact, the STA is nothing more than a trade agreement. Yet is was depicted as a “Trojan Horse”. Anti-STA rumors spread far and wide. For example, one rumor alleged that passage of the STA would lead to mass immigration from the Mainland. Such nonsense persists even today. Wang Jin-pyng recently endorsed a KMT legislator. While standing on the podium, he told voters "The STA really is a black box operation", giving the lie a new lease on life.
Is Wang Jin-pyng really unaware that the KMT's dire straits and Tsai Ing-wen's invincible status, are the result of just such charges of "black box operations"? Does he really not know that such scurillous charges are mere cover for DPP hate mongering? Tsai Ing-wen is hardly going to tell the truth. She proposes an “alternative path”. She tells voters: Join the TPP and all our problems will be solved. We can join the TPP without recognizing the 1992 Consensus.
The TPP has been hailed as an “economic NATO” led by the US to contain Mainland China. Tsai Ing-wen assumes all that is required to join “Team America", is a nod from the Team Captain. Many US officials have advanced this argument, which if not an outright lie, is an obvious misunderstanding. First of all, the United States is not the absolute ruler of the TPP. Taiwan hopes to become a second round member. To do so, it must obtain the consent of all 12 first round members. But the largest trading partner of several first round members is Mainland China. If the Mainland says no, are they really prepared to offend the Mainland by allowing Taiwan to join? Secondly, 40% of Taiwan's exports are to Mainland China. Can it really cling to the TPP and relinquish 40% of its market?
Economics is not a political game. When winter comes, those unprepared will be devastated. The PRC-ROK FTA has gone into effect in the icy cold of winter. Will the MTA continue to be falsely stigmatized, and come to naught? People should give the matter serious thought. They should realize that Tsai Ing-wen's “alternative path” leads to a mirage.
澳洲的兩個自由貿易協定卻生效了， 台灣陷在快意恩仇的政治熱浪裡， 彷彿渾不知經濟的寒冬已漸漸逼近，再多的惡耗都激不起一絲漣漪。
但中韓貿易與兩岸之間卻是高度相似， 中韓ＦＴＡ生效勢必造成兩岸貿易的替代效應，已無需贅言。 生效之後， 韓國約一千六百五十項稅號的原產貨品出口中國立即享受零關稅， 這遠多於兩岸經濟合作架構協議ＥＣＦＡ的五百三十九項貨品降稅早 收清單。
惠；對照之下，兩岸貨貿協議不知是先前服貿引發大規模抗爭， 以致對岸仍有所忌憚，還是因為大陸確有自己產業需要照顧， 仍在石化、面板、整車、工具機等台灣的四大產業上堅守陣地， 十二回合談判之後，仍缺乏進展。因大選在即，政治基礎一旦流失， 貨貿依舊前途未卜。
世界貿易組織獲致近二十年最大成就， 數十個參與國達成資訊科技協定（ＩＴＡ）擴大範圍降稅清單， 作為台灣出口主力的諸多ＩＣＴ產品普遍受惠。台灣在「ＩＴＡ２」 的二○一項清單上，一年出口金額高達約九百億美元， 其中最大的項目是液晶裝置零件。遺憾的是， 台灣面臨存亡之秋的面板產業並未納入， 兩岸貨貿將是它的唯一生機。
頂多解決三成的貿易障礙，其餘石化、紡織、機械等各類產業、 勢須另外打開壁壘。以雙邊談判達成貿易協定、 及加入區域經濟整合，仍是台灣唯一的出路。
說得貼切些，它是台灣參與世界經濟整合的唯一一把鑰匙。 在中國大陸崛起的此刻，無法否認的現實是： 不通過兩岸服貿與貨貿，台灣將無法參加任何區域整合， 也勢難再簽署任何貿易協定。
甬道上則是一扇一扇掩閉的門；台灣必須先打開中國大陸這一扇門， 最終才能打開加入ＲＣＥＰ、ＴＰＰ等區域性自貿區的那些門。 這是唯一的路徑圖，第一扇門就是兩岸服貿、貨貿， 而打開每一道門的鑰匙，都是「九二共識」。
經過前年那場由並不熟悉全球權力結構與經貿現實的年輕人所發動的 學運後，台灣儼已蒸發了大半理性，將一把世界經貿鑰匙硬是貼上「 黑箱」的罪名。事實上，兩岸服貿不過就是一紙貿易協議， 卻被誇大成特洛伊屠城木馬，反服貿期間謠諑紛紛， 譬如大陸人將可大舉來台定居等，這種任意編造的說詞， 至今還未廓清。王金平最近為國民黨立委站台， 竟再跟台下選民聲稱，「服貿真的是黑箱」， 彷彿要將黑箱罪名一舉定讞。
正是這股以「黑箱」作為掩飾的仇恨及恐懼席捲全台所致。 蔡英文當然不會說出實情，她推波助瀾地提出了另一條路徑圖， 告訴選民：只要加入ＴＰＰ，一切難題皆可迎刃而解； 而加入ＴＰＰ，並不需要「九二共識」。
蔡英文的概念是：加入這支「美國隊」，只需隊長點頭即可， 美國多位官員也都作此說法。然而，這縱非謊言，也是顯然的誤解。 首先，美國並不是ＴＰＰ一言九鼎的老大，台灣欲於第二輪加入， 必須徵得第一輪所有十二個國家的同意； 但有好幾個成員其最大貿易夥伴都是中國大陸，若大陸反對， 他們會甘冒大不韙同意台灣加入嗎？其次， 台灣本身就有四成出口市場是在大陸，難道可以只為擁抱ＴＰＰ， 而任那四成市場糜爛？
中韓ＦＴＡ已在歲寒中生效，兩岸貨貿還要繼續遭汙名蹂躪， 竟至於化為烏有嗎？大家不妨認真想想，蔡英文的替代路線， 是否只是虛無縹緲的海市蜃樓。