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Thread: Taiwan and China agree terms of landmark trade deal

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    Taiwan and China agree terms of landmark trade deal

    Taiwan and China agree terms of landmark trade deal
    Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:42am EDT

    Taiwan and China agree terms of landmark trade deal | Reuters

    TAIPEI (Reuters) - A landmark trade deal between Taiwan and China will cut tariffs on more than 800 products and open up service industries, officials and sources said on Thursday, giving a major boost to around $100 billion in annual two-way trade.

    World | China

    The most significant deal between the former political foes in 60 years will be signed on June 29 in Chongqing, once briefly the capital of China under the rule of the Nationalists, who are now Taiwan's ruling party after losing the civil war to Mao Zedong's Communists in 1949 and retreating to the island.

    Taiwan's government has been heavily pushing the deal, fearing the country's $390 billion export-led economy will lose out to rivals in the booming Chinese market.

    "In all free-trade agreement negotiations, there are bound to be winners and losers," said Tony Phoo, an economist with HSBC in Taipei.

    "I think, looking at what we have so far, the list covers most of the top export categories for what Taiwan ships to China, so it's not too bad of a deal.

    The economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) would see tariffs cut on 539 Taiwanese products bound for China and 267 Chinese products exported to Taiwan, Premier Wu Den-yih told reporters at parliament.

    The cuts on the Taiwan items are valued at $13.84 billion and those from China $2.86 billion. A private research body in Taiwan has previously estimated that ECFA could create some 260,000 jobs in Taiwan and lift GDP by around 1.7 percentage points a year.

    China is Taiwan's biggest trade partner and top foreign investor.

    OPENING FOR TAIWAN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

    The deal will also open up to Chinese investment some of Taiwan's service industries, including movies and business services, while the mainland's computer services, airline maintenance and medical sectors would be opened to Taiwanese investment.

    Taiwan banks operating in China would be allowed to conduct business in China's renminbi currency a year earlier than current rules allow. Chinese banks will be able to convert their representative offices in Taiwan into branches after one year.

    The tariff cuts will cover about 15 percent of Taiwan's exports to China, and include petrochemicals and plastics, cars and parts, textiles, machines tools and medical equipment. But the list left out PVC products, one of Taiwan's top exports.

    Taiwan will in turn cut tariffs on Chinese products, including toothbrushes and wristwatches, bicycle tires, light bulbs and some industrial oils.

    The imbalance in the number and type of items in favor of Taiwan reflects China's view that the deal is a sweetener aimed at advancing China's charm offensive toward the island it hopes one day to incorporate.

    The deal could also boost the chances of Taiwan's ruling party at tough local elections due at the end of the year, with a tough challenge expected from an opposition fearful of ECFA's economic and political consequences.

    With a message that ECFA will flood Taiwan with cheap goods, creating massive unemployment, and is a first step toward a Chinese political takeover, the opposition is looking to score big in the local elections to give it chance of ousting pro-China President Ma Ying-jeou in 2012 presidential polls.

    "(The deal) gives Ma a beautiful list of scores he can deliver at the next elections," said Lin Chong-pin, strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taipei.

    "It's a political decision made by Beijing, not economic. It's Beijing's high-level strategic political decision to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwan people and pre-empt the pro-independence opposition party."

    The opposition, which has called for any trade deal to be concluded under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, plans to hold a protest rally against ECFA in Taipei on Saturday.

    (Additional reporting by Ralph Jennings and Argin Chang, writing by Jonathan Standing; Editing by Chris Lewis and Ron Popeski)
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    From FT

    FT.com / China - China?s bear hug has benefits for wary Taiwan

    China’s bear hug has benefits for wary Taiwan

    By David Pilling

    Published: June 24 2010 00:10 | Last updated: June 24 2010 00:10

    Along with their electricity bill from the state-owned power company, Taiwanese residents recently received a pamphlet extolling the virtues of a trade agreement with mainland China. The Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement, or Ecfa, as it is known in the elegant phraseology of trade negotiators, is the centrepiece of the Taiwanese government’s drive to repair relations with Beijing. If things go to plan, an agreement could be inked by the end of the month.

    Ma Ying-jeou was elected president in May 2008 with a mandate to mend fences with Beijing. In truth, there was not really much of a fence left. His predecessor, Chen Shui-bian, had infuriated Beijing by pursuing what it regarded as a “splittest” agenda. Mr Chen, the first non-Kuomintang leader of Taiwan in 50 years, had sought to enact a new constitution that would strengthen the island’s independence. He had “Taiwan” – rather than the Republic of China – embossed in passports and pursued a United Nations seat for an island that Beijing still regards as a breakaway province.

    Mr Chen’s presidency ended in ignominy. He is currently serving a 20-year sentence for corruption. Mr Ma, the beneficiary of that fall from grace, has moved swiftly to unpick his predecessor’s separatist handiwork. Taiwan has cooled the independence rhetoric and established direct flights and shipping routes across the 110-mile-wide Taiwan Strait. The island’s 23m people – 4 per cent of whom live and work on the mainland – can now fly direct to 23 Chinese cities. Shanghai is an hour and 20 minutes away instead of the day-long slog, via Hong Kong, that it used to be.

    The kiss-and-make-up atmosphere was symbolised by China’s delivery, six months into Mr Ma’s premiership, of two giant pandas to Taiwan. Their names, Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, cunningly combine to spell the word “reunion”, angering an opposition already complaining that the black-and-white ambassadors did not come accompanied by the requisite export papers. (Beijing naturally regarded their transfer as a purely domestic affair.)

    Now, Mr Ma, who was born in Hong Kong of mainland parents, wants to go one step further by concluding a trade agreement. The not-unreasonable rationale is that Taiwan’s political status is making it increasingly isolated. It has been excluded from a web of free trade agreements that have shot, Spiderman-like, across Asia. Its growth slowed to a lacklustre average of 4 per cent during the eight years of Mr Chen’s presidency. Mr Ma says Taiwan’s isolation is damaging its attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment.

    The danger of being left out in the cold was illustrated with the January enactment of the China-Asean free trade agreement. This gives the 10 countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations preferential access to China’s vast market, potentially deepening Taiwan’s disadvantage. Mr Ma says a deal with China will even things out by reducing tariffs on Taiwanese exports to the mainland and clear the path for agreements with other Asian nations too scared to offer bilateral deals to Taipei.

    The opposition senses a trap. It says Beijing wants to draw Taiwan into its economic embrace until reunification becomes a fait accompli. Frank Hsieh, who lost to Mr Ma in the 2008 presidential election, says mainland companies have started to infiltrate Taiwanese media, spreading the pro-Beijing gospel. He concedes that lower tariffs might help some big businesses in industries such as petrochemicals and textiles, but says smaller ones will suffer from a flood of cheap Chinese imports. Taiwan, he says, already sends 41 per cent of its exports to China. It needs to diversify, not deepen its dependence.

    Morris Chang, considered the father of Taiwan’s world-class semiconductor industry, supports the deal, though he says it won’t affect his own business. “The general direction we should take is to be more open to China and vice versa,” he says. Mr Ma is not a “babe in the woods” who will negotiate away Taiwan’s economic wellbeing or de facto independence for a quick deal.

    Even Jimmy Lai, a staunchly anti-Beijing entrepreneur and media impresario, supports the agreement, saying Taiwan can benefit from China’s dynamism without compromising its freedoms. “China wants to integrate the economies slowly, slowly and eventually overwhelm it. But this is a dream devoid of reality,” he says. “People won’t give up democracy just because Beijing has given them some goodies.” Mr Lai, who moved to Taiwan from Hong Kong because he found its democracy and civil liberties “irresistible”, says that by drawing closer to China economically, culturally and socially – but not politically – Taiwan will get a new burst of vitality.

    It may seem odd to be considering any kind of agreement with a country that has 1,300 missiles pointing at your tiny, isolated island. But Mr Ma is betting that China will never use them. Both sides are waiting. Beijing hopes the Taiwanese will eventually see the light and come home to a strong and vibrant China. Taiwan hopes that China will grow rich and more democratic, by which time reunification might not be such a pressing issue. If that is right, Taiwan could yet turn out to be an international flashpoint that, mercifully, will never flash.

    david.pilling@ft.com
    “the misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all” -- Joan Robinson

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    From bloomberg

    Taiwan to Sign China Pact, Deepening Trade Ties as Relations Thaw Under Ma
    By Janet Ong - Jun 24, 2010

    *
    Taiwan to Sign China Pact, Deepening Trade Ties as Relations Thaw Under Ma - Bloomberg

    Taiwan, China Hold Trade Talks

    Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has been pushing for an accord to bolster export-dependent Taiwan's economy. Photographer: Maurice Tsai/Bloomberg

    Taiwan said it will sign a trade accord with China next week after more than a year of talks, as warming cross-strait relations pave the way for deeper investment ties with the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

    The two sides have completed details of an “early harvest” list of items that will be the first to enjoy tariff reductions under the trade agreement, Kao Koong-lian, vice chairman of the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation, said today. A fifth round of cross-strait talks will be held from June 28 to June 30 in the Chinese city of Chongqing, where the trade pact will be signed on June 29.

    Taiwan’s benchmark stock index has jumped 19 percent in the past year as President Ma Ying-jeou pushes for an accord with China, its biggest trading partner and No. 1 investment destination. The island, regarded by the mainland a territory that it aims to reunite by force if necessary, is trying to avoid being disadvantaged after a Chinese trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations began this year.

    The China-Taiwan trade agreement is “clearly the first hurdle that Taiwan has cleared,” said Tony Phoo, a Taipei-based economist for Standard Chartered Plc. Beyond that, Taiwan will need to expand its trade links and sign agreements with other Southeast Asian countries, he said.

    Ma abandoned his predecessor’s pro-independence stance after taking office two years ago, seeking to repair ties with China and boost an economy that has been excluded from the 58 regional trade agreements Ma estimates were in place as of 2009.

    Initial Agreement

    China and Taiwan reached an initial agreement on tariff reductions after talks in Beijing on June 13 on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, or ECFA.

    “The signing of the ECFA signifies the door is open and will lead the way for further discussions on trade and cooperation on financial services,” said Cheng Cheng-mount, a Taipei-based economist at Citigroup Inc.

    Kao met this morning with his Chinese counterpart, Zheng Lizhong, vice chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, to discuss the trade agreement details and to prepare for the meeting next week. The two sides are also scheduled to sign an agreement on intellectual property rights protection.

    China will cut tariffs on 539 items from Taiwan worth $13.8 billion, or about 16 percent of Taiwan’s 2009 exports to the mainland, Zheng said today. Taiwan will cut tariffs on 267 items from China worth $2.86 billion, or about 10.5 percent of the country’s shipments to Taiwan in 2009.

    Yuan Services

    The reductions on items including petrochemicals, auto parts, textiles and machinery will be implemented in three stages over two years, by which time tariffs will be brought to zero, Zheng said.

    Taiwanese banks will also be allowed to offer yuan services to the island’s firms in China, Zheng said. The banks must have one year’s experience and be profitable to qualify, he said. Some 26 Chinese banks offered loans of more than 230 billion yuan ($34 billion) to Taiwanese firms last year, Zheng said.

    While the tariff cuts would lead to savings for businesses and boost investment “over time,” the bank ruling won’t result in “anything solid until two years later,” Standard Chartered’s Phoo said. “Short-term wise, it’s still very much a preparation stage for Taiwanese banks looking to the Chinese market.”

    The opposition Democratic Progressive Party is organizing a rally to protest the accord on June 26, saying the agreement will give the government in Beijing too much clout over Taiwan, and may cost jobs by allowing cheaper Chinese goods to flood the island’s market.

    Export Market

    China and Hong Kong combined account for about 40 percent of Taiwan’s exports. Taiwanese companies have already invested an estimated $150 billion in China since 1991.

    Taiwan and China agreed to boost cooperation in fishing, agriculture and industrial goods at the fourth cross-strait talks in December. In November, they signed three memoranda of understanding to ease access to each other’s banking, securities and insurance industries.

    Trade between the mainland and Taiwan increased 68 percent in the first four months of 2010 compared with the same period last year, and Taiwan investment rose 44.7 percent, Tang Wei, head of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau affairs at China’s Ministry of Commerce, said this month.

    The China-Taiwan trade accord “will set the stage for more capital inflows to Taiwan,” said Wai Ho Leong, a regional economist at Barclays Plc in Singapore. “For a long time, the inflow of funds has very much been one-way from Taiwan to China. A key priority for the Ma administration is regional integration, starting with China.”

    To contact the reporter on this story: Janet Ong at jong3@bloomberg.net
    “the misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all” -- Joan Robinson

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    Taiwanese Protest New Trade Agreement With China
    Kelly Heffernan-Tabor Created: 6/26/2010 5:40:35 PM Updated: 6/26/2010 5:45:32 PM




    Taipei, Taiwan -- Protest on the streets of Taiwan's capital, Taipei, over a new trade agreement with China.

    The economic deal looks to boost annual two-way trade to around $100 billion, but many are wary of the goal to cut tariffs on more than 800 products.

    Critics fear a sudden influx of cheap goods here from mainland China could cause massive unemployment.

    There's also worry the deal may give China more influence over autonomous Taiwan, a territory it once ruled.

    One demonstrator called on the World Trade Organization to oversee the deal.

    "The World Trade Organization is an international forum, it has complete responsibilities and duties, like making sure the whole world is equal. If we sign a bilateral agreement with China, it will certainly not be a fair one. China does not even recognize us as a country, when we sign under these circumstances, it will give China more clout over us," says Huang Shu-Cheng

    While the demonstrators worry, Taiwan's government is pushing the landmark deal, fearing China's strong market will crush its own.

    A private report says the trade deal could actually create some 260,000 jobs in Taiwan.

    Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which organized the protests, hopes criticizing the deal will help it win support ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

    The free-trade agreement is scheduled to be signed into effect on June 29.
    CBS
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    I'm glad that our government is still capable of pushing through real agendas these days. and that the political will behind the Ma government is legit.

    It was quite absurd really, Taiwan have been one of the primary invester in China pretty much since they began economic reforms, yet you can't fly to China directly, can't transfer money over there, and can't ship overthere. amazing.

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    rollingwave,

    to be honest i don't know how the DPP is still a going political operation-- they are a one-issue party these days. it actually speaks to the incompetence of the KMT operation that they can't smash the DPP.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."¯- Isaac Asimov

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    Astralis, the problem is that if you smash the DPP, the TI movement won't go away. They could potentially migrate into a more competent political organization without any of the DPP's preexisting baggage and dysfunctional institutions.

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    i mean politically. the TI movement will always be there, but it's hard to build a party around one issue alone.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."¯- Isaac Asimov

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    Until there is a more competent alternative to the DPP unfortunately it'll still be there.

    And even as a KMT supporter, I would certainly hope that there is a relatively competent opposition group . just in case they go too far or reel off too badly toward corruption again.

    With that said, you are right that the current DPP is a one issue opposition party, and that whatever legitimate concern they bring up gets drown out in the "ZOMG EVIL COMMUNIST CHINA!!!" agenda.

    Unforunately though, it seems unlikely at the present that a party can form which is both relatively free of unrational China phobia while presenting legitimate opposing issues to the KMT . (AND winning a reasonable amount of seats to be politically relavent)

    To be frank, Taiwan is a small place, there really isn't a whole lot of issue one can seperate on outside of how to deal with the PRC. the DPP did make some attempts to do so in the early days of Chen's term (though in poor execution, such as the whole Nuclear power issue, nowadys anti-nuclear power is simply a non-existent issue where as before they took power it was something that some of their key leaders pushed hard for, their awfully poor execution of stopping a large nuclear powerplant in construction in the early Chen days is basically one of the key reminders of how they're both administratively incompetent and ideologically uncommitted on pretty much anything other than anti-china)
    Last edited by RollingWave; 29 Jun 10, at 10:40.

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    For those interested, this is the full detail of the treaty (only in Chinese though)

    ???????????

    Anyone who doesn't have massive colored glasses on can see that this is massively in favor of Taiwan here. several points of note.

    1.no agricultural product was opened to go into Taiwan, where a significant portion of Taiwan argri products are allowed into China.

    2.Taiwan's fianance sector is basically allowed to operate branches in China at will, where as China is only allowed to open up branchs in normal banks (no investment banks and no insurance companies)

    3. A significantly larger portion of Taiwan's service sector is now allowed to do busniess in China than vice versa , basically the only notable opening on Taiwan's part is enterainment and sports. and that could be a huge benifit anyway since Taiwan's movie industry is borderline extinct. Taiwan movies are now treated as a domestic movie instead of foreign which is certainly relavant (since foreign movies have a run time limit, and generally higher level of censorship) Taiwan's movie's biggest problem for years was a lack of market, and now that might just change.

    4. most of the treaty is actually just talking about normalizing legal procedures and standards on various tarriff / customs / legal issue, which is amusing since most of this stuff is taken for granted between normal countries and it's not hard to see which side have more to gain for it's normalization.

    5. Most importantly, the final document is a copy rights treaty. and I don't think we need to think too hard to see which side was getting their products hacked by the other big time right now.

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    RW,

    it might be so, but by looking at the forest, there is no such thing as a "loser" in a free trade deal in the long term.
    Last edited by xinhui; 02 Jul 10, at 17:27.
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    Sure there are losers, its called the Democratic Progressive part

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    Quote Originally Posted by RollingWave View Post
    Sure there are losers, its called the Democratic Progressive part
    A supporter of Taiwan's opposition party holds a placard with a digitally manipulated image of Taiwan's president Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese president Hu Jintao. Photograph: Patrick Lin/AFP/Getty Images
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    to be honest i don't know how the DPP is still a going political operation-- they are a one-issue party these days. it actually speaks to the incompetence of the KMT operation that they can't smash the DPP.
    The KMT government is very weak and November election might well end in a DPP victory. The DPP doesn't lose from signing the ECFA--while my pro TI stance isn't exactly a secret on this board, but it is an objective observation: ECFA gave the DPP base a good jolt, while the moderates are so alienated by the current administration that they need little courting. From a moderate prospective I won't be too worried about Tsai; she has yet to condemn trade agreements with China as such, only its terms.
    All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful.
    -Talmud Kohelet Rabbah, 7:16.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Triple C View Post
    The KMT government is very weak and November election might well end in a DPP victory. The DPP doesn't lose from signing the ECFA--while my pro TI stance isn't exactly a secret on this board, but it is an objective observation: ECFA gave the DPP base a good jolt, while the moderates are so alienated by the current administration that they need little courting. From a moderate prospective I won't be too worried about Tsai; she has yet to condemn trade agreements with China as such, only its terms.
    Those are seperate issues. the KMT indeed is obviously a relatively inferior election machine to the DPP, considering the relative base and resources they have to work with .

    For the swing voters of Taiwan, there is really only one thing that really matter, how the economy is doing and the general social well beings . As long as the KMT can make good on that (and from where I live, that has been the case, almost all relavent tourist sites are thriving and the ripple effect on the various areas are highly noticable).

    Tsai and the DPP is really caught in a difficult position right now, Tsai did the smart thing and didn't outright condemn the trade treaty in itself during the debate (because then she would be way too far self defeating in the later WTO arguments and could easily be played into anti-market party.). but then she and the DPP is caught in a tough loop of how to properly argue their way out of this , so if they're not against FTAs, why are they against ECFA? if they're really focusing on the various aspect of the treaty , why are they making completely false accusations on it's details? (such as opening up Chinese workers, or opening up agricultural markets, funny little thing happened that just about everyone of the agricultural product that China can import to Taiwan right now was opened up during the DPP tenure.).

    With that said, the November election is tipped in favor of the DPP, though that certainly have something to do with candidates and the local situations. the DPP have a huge majority base in Tainan so barring a epic breakup situation they'll surely win easily, Kaoshung has also been stronger DPP base in the past (though not quite as extreme as Tainan) and the KMT candidate is relatively uninspiring.

    In Taichung, the KMT have a stronger base and a stronger candidate. but recent breakout of gang assasination and police scandals in the area might threaten them.

    The two Taipei district are probably the most elusive, Taipei county have always been the central battle ground between the two sides, with relatively comparable bases and both side having won and loss some, the KMT decided to not let their incompent run for reelection , a highly debatable move. and now they're pitting their best candidate against DPP's chairwomen for the region, Tsai obviously have nation wide fame, but has also never ran for any office and is really completely detached from the local bases. so it's a strange matchup that's hard to really pick up.

    In Taipei city, traditionally a huge base for the KMT, the DPP are pitting their best candidate against a relatively uncharistimatic incompent mayor. though it's hard to fault him for some of the problems the city have face over the last few years (mostly some of the constructions started by his predecessors have been exposed with various degree of design or operational flaws). he does have the back of a huge base. so it seems he's probably favored , but who knows.

    For Ma's part though, I think he realizes that as long he can conjure up a Taiwan in good economic shape, he and the KMT is more than likely to do well enough in elections in the longer run. I remain relatively optimistic on the KMT's prospect in november, though it seems more than likely that the DPP might take 3 out of 5, and maybe with even a outside should of 4 out of 5.

    The DPP have more than a few easy to attack weakness on this subject, namely that they pushed hard to get into the WTO, and in the process they opened up more Chinese import than anything the KMT have done or is going to do. including massive give ins on agricultural products. And after the multilateral WTO trade talks end up going nowhere, they also pushed for various FTAs, including FTA with Singapore that was already getting pretty close to completion before the DPP bombed it by making amazingly insulting remarks on the city state (true story, the DPP foreign minister called Singapore, on TV.. a "Nation the size of my nose boogie" and insisting on signing it with the terms of Taiwan instead of any other comprimsing terms.

    Also, the USA and Taiwan have been on going talk for a similar treaty called TIFA since the DPP time, but it has stalled forever since the US will insist on openingly massive amount of agricultural products, including all beef products. something that would surely destroy Taiwan's fragil beef industry. Yet Tsai made remarks during the debate that we should sign these treaty with the "european and north american countries" first before signing ECFA. which is amusing, since the DPP is supposedly horrified at any prospect of opening up the agricultural industries. yet for Taiwan to sign any similar deals with a major European or North American state would almost surely require opening this up.

    In the end, ECFA obviously carry different risks, but if a nation never take risks and move foward, then it'll just stay at the same place and eventually fall very far behind everyone else.

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