Sun, Aug 25, 2013      Taipei Times       By Mo Yan-chih

OPEN-MINDED:An official said the Presidential Office does not have any presumptions regarding the proposed debate on the pact and will cooperate with its organizers


President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said he has agreed to a proposed debate with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on the cross-strait service trade agreement, with his administration seeking to promote the advantages of the proposed deal.


“I already agreed to [participate in the debate], and I will definitely attend the debate,” he said on the sidelines of a visit to the factory for the 85˚C (85度C) bakery-and-coffee chain in Greater Taichung.


Ma and his administration have touted the coffee chain as a successful example of a Taiwanese service business’ expansion in China, and said the cross-strait service trade agreement would create further opportunities for the service sector.


The 85?C chain is a Taiwanese franchise with more than 700 branches around the world, including in China and the US.

During a tour of the coffee chain’s factory, Ma tasted different coffee brands and inspected coffee beans imported from Guatemala.


He later exchanged opinions with the company’s representatives and said that under the service trade pact, service businesses will be able to enter the larger service market in China, which accounts for 40 percent of GDP and has room to grow.


“The market for the service industry in Taiwan is small and full, while the service market in mainland China is growing. It’s a great time for Taiwanese businesses to enter the Chinese market, and what the government can do is to create the opportunity for local businesses to thrive in mainland China,” he said.


As disputes over the impact of the agreement on the service sector in Taiwan continue, the Public Television Service Foundation will co-host the Ma-Su debate with four major Chinese-language newspapers and the Central News Agency.


Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) will negotiate with the debate organizers on the time and format of the debate.


Lo said the Presidential Office does not have any presumptions regarding the proposed debate and will cooperate with the organizers.


The cross-strait service trade agreement, which was signed in June in Shanghai, is a follow-up to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which was inked in June 2010.


Separately yesterday, DPP spokesperson Wang Min-sheng (王閔生) said Su has on many occasions discussed the issue with academics and industry representatives, whose various opinions would serve as important reference points in the debate with Ma should the debate take place.


Additional reporting by Rich Chang