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VP Siew touts importance of trade liberalization

Taiwan Today, Taiwan

VP Siew touts importance of trade liberalization

16 May 2012

By Rachel Chan

Taiwan will pursue an economic alliance with Japan and up its pace of trade liberalization to overcome challenges arising from planned free trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific region, according to ROC Vice President Vincent C. Siew May 15.

“Now is the time for Taipei and Tokyo to further boost trade cooperation given bilateral relations are at an all-time high,” Siew said during an address to the Third Wednesday Club, a private organization established by entrepreneurs from Taiwan and Japan to strengthen trade exchanges.

Also attending the gathering were Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, Liao Liou-yi, chairman of the Association of East Asian Relations, and Yusuke Sami, deputy head of Japan’s Interchange Association.

The vice president’s comments follow the announcement that Japan, South Korea and mainland China agreed May 13 to start trilateral FTA negotiations this year.

“Taiwan and Japan’s respective strengths in manufacturing and technology are a perfect fit,” the vice president said, adding that with the assistance of financial industries and consulting companies, the two nations can forge a win-win situation.

Siew urged officials in both countries to establish a platform for coordinating economic and industrial cooperation that utilizes the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) to establish a stronger joint presence in the mainland Chinese market.

But Taiwan must also embrace greater trade liberalization and secure its economic position in the region before signing trade pacts with other economies, Siew said.

Citing Hong Kong and Singapore as examples, the vice president said the economies do not need FTAs with other countries to enjoy the benefits of free trade as they are open markets and have regulations in line with international standards.

Siew said FTA talks take time and Taiwan should not wait to conclude such agreements before undertaking a fast-tracked program of trade liberalization. Implementing regulatory reform in the areas of capital, labor force and technology to meet international standards should be first cab off the rank, he added.

“Over the past few decades, we have learnt that a more liberalized market brings more opportunities and as a result, our economy grows stronger,” Siew said. (JSM)