Manila Bulletin | June 22, 2010
‘One-China’ policy stands; no FTA with Taiwan
By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
Short of shooting down a proposed bilateral free trade agreement between Taiwan and the Philippines, Trade and Industry Secretary Jesli A. Lapus said the country’s “One-China” policy stands and that commercial relations between the two economies are adequately covered under the Philippines-Taiwan Joint Economic Conference (JEC).
“Our One-China policy stands. An FTA with Taiwan is still too early to say and that our commercial matters with Taiwan are being handled adequately through the JEC,” Lapus told reporters.
Lapus said the JEC is working well and the next meeting is already the 17th JEC to be held in Taiwan. This year’s JEC was originally set in the first quarter this year, but has been rescheduled to the fourth quarter in deference with the entry of a new administration.
Lapus also added that China is going strong with its trade relationship in ASEAN because of the implementation of the China-ASEAN FTA.
“Let the new administration call the shots,” Lapus said referring to the proposed RP-Taiwan bilateral FTA.
“We (the Arroyo administration) leave the scene with a very friendly, cordial relationship with an economy that is poised for growth,” he added.
Earlier, however, Lapus aired the possibility of exploring a bilateral FTA with Taiwan as relationship between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China has been warming up with the expected signing of both countries Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).
"This might be the time to start talking. I see the benefits of this bilateral (FTA) because of thousands of investors from Taiwan. This would even improve with an FTA," Lapus said in an earlier interview.
Taiwan authorities have also been pushing for continued discussions for a free trade agreement with the Philippines to capture Taiwanese investments into the country, protect existing workers in Taiwan and create new employment opportunities from expanding Taiwanese firms here.
Taiwan representative Donald Lee of the Taiwan Economic Cooperation Office in Manila also told reporters in a chance interview earlier that several discussions between his office and the Philippine government have been held since the start of the year.
“Taiwan and the Philippines have agreed to discuss on how the proposed FTA can be signed,” Lee said.
He said that a bilateral FTA has been resorted because the Subic-Clark-Kaoshiung Economic Corridor, which was established four years ago, would not be enough to realize the benefit from a bilateral FTA.
“This economic corridor involves only a small area, but the FTA covers entire both countries, so this will expand relations of the two countries,” he said.
Lee, however, refused to give details but said the FTA would cover both investments and trade and expressed hope that discussions will continue under the new government.
He said no timelines have been set for the completion of the discussions although he noted the urgency for the deal because the Economic Partnership Framework Agreement between China and Taiwan is expected to be signed mid this month.
Lee said that once the ECFA is signed, more Taiwanese investors are expected to relocate to China and this could mean displacements of some of the 80,000 overseas Filipino workers in Taiwan.
Lee explained that in the past two years, relations between China and Taiwan have improved a lot that led to the signing of 12 memoranda of agreements from both countries.
This makes the One-China policy, which some countries have adopted in recognition that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China, a non issue, Lee said.