Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fixing the economy, one bold step at a time

Cargo ships arrive at Kaohsiung Harbor
There could not be a better time for Ma to take bold steps in the right direction. The support is there — and the clock is ticking 

Two developments are making it clear that the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration and the technocrats who fill its ranks must not only shift gear on the economy, but shift into high gear before it’s too late. 

First is the adoption earlier this week of maximum residue levels for the leanness-enhancement drug ractopamine by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which is likely to result in a decision by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to end its ongoing legislative boycott of a vote on the import of US beef products containing the agent. 

The US side, which has made resolving the dispute over ractopamine a sine qua non for the resumption of long-stalled Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) negotiations, is now hoping that the Ma administration will be able to pass the bill allowing the imports. Once this is out of the way, there would be no reason why TIFA talks could not resume, US officials have told this newspaper in private. 

The other development is the continued deterioration of the nation’s economic indicators, epitomized by a revised GDP growth forecast for this year by Citibank, which trimmed its prediction to 2.8 percent, from 3.3 percent in May, saying the figure could be revised downwards again should the situation fail to improve. 

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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