Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Taiwan News with two on ECFA and Ma's approval ratings

Taiwan News with another awesome editorial on Embracing China's Formosan Annexation (ECFA). This one not only points out that Taiwan has a number of alternatives to the alleged "marginalization" that the KMT claims we desperately need ECFA to avoid, but also points out that ECFA is missing anything on dispute resolution, and further, by reorienting the island's suppliers on China, risks preventing them from developing their own brands even as Chinese firms expand globally. Wonderful piece, guys! Read carefully:
For example, in a newly book newly published by the Taiwan Thinktank on "ECFA: Unspeakable Secrets?", former Council for Economic Planning and Development Chen Po-shih offers six alternatives ranging from delaying negotiation of an ECFA until the formation of a domestic consensus on a negotiating and adjustment strategy, holding negotiations with the PRC on tariff reductions on individual sectors in the meantime, and encouraging Taiwan manufacturers to invest in Association for Southeast Asian Nations member countries to gain tariff free entry into the PRC market.

Besides critiquing the questionable economic assumptions underlying Ma's ECFA strategy, Chen, who was a leading economic advisor to former president Lee Teng-hui as well as to the previous DPP administration, advocated the adoption of an alternative "Taiwan-centric economic strategy."

The former CEPD chairman called on the KMT government to replace its "model of East Asian export manufacturing based on low costs" and reorient our national economic development strategy toward the active promotion of high-value added and high quality and knowledge intensive products and services for the entire global market.

In addition, the Taiwan Thinktank chairman urged the government to create a more favorable climate for domestic-market oriented industries and services aimed at improving the quality of living, including "green technology" such as alternative or renewable energies, cultural and creative industries, social welfare and health, education and "green life" services.

In terms of regional integration, Chen advocated more energetic efforts to build deeper trade and investment ties with advanced economies, such as the U.S. and Japan to provide greater impetus for Taiwan's knowledge and innovation intensive high-tech sectors, before entering into a comprehensive economic pact with the PRC.

Similar views are not only expressed by the pro-DPP camp.

Even Ma's former CEPD chairman Chen Tain-jy noted in an opinion article Monday in the United Daily News that the ECFA should not be aim mainly to "avoid marginalization" or gain short-term "early harvest" benefits.

Not just 'market liberalization'

Instead, Chen maintains that an ECFA should aim to set up an institutional channel between Taiwan and the PRC governments to resolve non-tariff trade barriers and other unfair competition mechanisms and obstacles to investment in the PRC domestic market and to spur Taiwan companies to transform their management strategies from pursuing "cost-down" subcontracting manufacturing into developing "brand name" goods and services.

Unfortunately, the ECFA currently being negotiated by the KMT government with the PRC has been justified primarily on the grounds of "market liberalization" and lowering tariff costs and "political factors," including both the "sovereignty cost" and the fact that the PRC is not a "normal" market economy are being blissfully ignored.

This blindness could deliver a blow more mortal to Taiwan's economy than any delay in the signing of the ECFA.

As shown by the experience of Southeast Asian economies in the first months of the PRC-ASEAN free trade agreement, Taiwan's domestic industries will be face a possible flood of imports of cheap PRC-made consumer goods made by state owned firms whose low costs derive largely from subsidies and protection from pressures for higher wages or adequate environmental or consumer safety safeguards by the authoritarian CCP regime.

Moreover, by focusing on tariff reductions instead of dealing with unfair competition, the ECFA may lock in the current pattern of "cross-strait industrial division of labor" in which Taiwan high-technology manufacturers, such as TFT-LCD fabricators, are being increasingly coopted as suppliers of components for emerging PRC enterprise brand names instead of developing their own complete brand-name products.
Another recent editorial noted that confidence in Ma continues to slip though his approval rating improved marginally. It's fascinating to contrast the attitude of foreign commentators who write as if convinced that Ma is awesomely competent, with that of individuals who have the misfortune to actually live under Regional Administrator Ma. Here the Global Views director frankly states that the Administration "urgently" needs to show results:
The vast majority of Taiwan citizens remained dissatisfied with the performance of President Ma Ying-jeou and his right-wing Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) last month, according to an opinion poll conducted last week by the public survey arm of the prominent "Global Views" monthly.

According to the survey of 1,001 Taiwan citizens conducted last week, 26.6 percent expressed satisfaction with the performance of President Ma Ying-jeou, who is concurrently ruling KMT chairman, while 61.4 percent were dissatisfied.

This rating marks a slight improvement from March, in which only 23.8 percent said they were satisfied compared to 66.0 percent who were displeased with the KMT leader`s performance.

However, confidence in Ma`s leadership continued to decline as only 37.1 percent said they had confidence in his leadership, down 1.7 percentage points from 38.8 percent in March, while 44.7 percent stated that they did not trust the president`s leadership, compared to 47.1 percent last month.

GVSRC Director Tai Li-an observed that while Ma`s approval rating has escaped the nadir recorded in December, satisfaction and public confidence remain far lower than the 44.6 percent effective support level that Ma tallied in the March 2008 presidential election, a figure based on the 58.45 percent of the votes he received in the poll which had an overall voter turnout rate of 76.33 percent.

Tai related that, in the two years of President Ma`s administration, the government's attitude, capability and effectiveness in handling of crises such as the importation of poisoned Chinese milk products in September 2008, the "August 8 Flood Disaster" following the onslaught of Typhoon Morakot last August poison have "left a deep brand on the people`s feeling."

"If President Ma and his government are to regain public confidence, the most urgent task is to display results,"said Tai.
The Taipei Times had a long piece today on the KMT's block of a DPP bill which called for a referendum on ECFA. The bill never made it out of the Procedural Committee, the sixth time it blocked the bill. The KMT's excuse was that referendums should not be submitted by the legislature although, as the TT points out, the law permits that.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anyone wanna bet "Chinese Taipei" is the proposed name for the new Taiwan SAR. Get people used to the idea so it does not seem like and abrupt change once sovereignty is lost.