Go TO Content

President Ma attends opening of 2015 CommonWealth Economic Forum

President Ma attends the 2015 CommonWealth Economic Forum. (01) President Ma attends the 2015 CommonWealth Economic Forum. (02) President Ma attends the 2015 CommonWealth Economic Forum. (03) President Ma attends the 2015 CommonWealth Economic Forum. (04)
On the morning of January 29, President Ma attended the 2015 CommonWealth Economic Forum, where he emphasized that the government will address the trend toward global and regional economic integration on two fronts. Domestically, it will work to "enhance innovation value." In external affairs, it will seek to "participate in economic integration." This strategy, he said, will make innovation and liberalization like two wings that help Taiwan's economy to soar.
In remarks, the president first pointed out that this is the sixth year that CommonWealth magazine organized this forum, providing an interaction platform for political and business leaders from around the world while helping Taiwan find new opportunities amid the latest global trends. The core theme of the forum was "Volatile 2015‧Promising 2020," with panel discussions focusing on topics such as "Uncertain Times: Turbulence in 2015," "Future Change: Anticipating 2020," "Opportunities and Challenges in Asia in 2015," and "Growth Challenges: Keys to Success for Asian Companies." The discussions on these topics, the president said, are extremely significant and can serve as reference points for government policy implementation and enterprise operations.
President Ma stated that 2015 looks like it will be a turbulent year for the global economy. The stance that the United States takes in raising interest rates will subsequently influence international financial markets, while the new government in Greece will have an impact on the Eurozone. Meanwhile, other elements of uncertainty, such as the direction of Japan's economy and geopolitical risks in the Middle East, will also affect the pace of the global economic recovery this year. The president said that Taiwan is at the starting gate, ready to forge ahead in 2015.
President Ma pointed out that Taiwan's economy last year staged a clear recovery. The Executive Yuan's Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics forecasts that Taiwan's 2014 economic growth rate could reach 3.43%, which is higher than initially anticipated. Taiwan's average unemployment rate for the year fell to a seven-year low of 3.96%, while its inflation rate was controlled at 1.2%, the second lowest of the four Asian tigers. The president said that the household income gap narrowed to a five-year low in 2014, while dropping to a 13-year low for individuals. In addition, in the 2013 misery index compiled by Professor Steve Hanke of The Johns Hopkins University, which is primarily the sum of a country's unemployment and inflation rates, Taiwan was listed as having the third lowest misery index among 90 countries and areas. This, President Ma remarked, confirms that Taiwan's economy is developing in a positive direction.
The president noted that Taiwan is a small and open economic entity that is easily affected by the international economic environment. He went on to say that in the new year, the government will be looking to enhance innovation value at home, and participate in economic integration with partners abroad. These policies will be pursued simultaneously, boldly meeting the challenges of global competition.
As for enhancing innovation value at home, the president said that Taiwan's innovation and design have long been recognized throughout the world. According to the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI) calculated by the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute, Taiwan has been in the Top 10 in the world for four consecutive years, and is the leader in Asia.
President Ma also stated that the government began promoting the Youth Entrepreneurship Program in January of last year. A total of NT$2.7 billion will be injected into the Program over three years, expecting to create 3,130 startups, and jobs for 38,000 young people. In addition, the government began promoting the HeadStart Taiwan program in August last year to create an environment conducive to the development of innovative industries. It is hoped that this program will help to remove legal barriers to innovative startups and bring in international capital and professional knowledge, as well as set up international start-up parks. The president said that this aims to transform Taiwan into a center of innovation and entrepreneurship in Asia, and strengthen Taiwan's role in the international innovation and entrepreneurship value chain. This initiative is expected to attract roughly NT$8.6 billion of domestic investment over five years, create over 5,000 jobs, and generate about NT$17.6 billion in additional output from related new industries. This project has already successfully attracted fundraising plans from 16 domestic and foreign venture capital firms from countries such as the United States, Japan, and Singapore, including well-known venture capitalists from Silicon Valley.
As for participating in economic integration, President Ma told the attendees that over the past six years, the government has continuously made promoting international economic and trade integration its foremost mission. Five years ago Taiwan and mainland China signed a Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, and in July and November of 2013 Taiwan signed the ANZTEC economic cooperation agreement with New Zealand and the ASTEP economic partnership agreement with Singapore, respectively. Trade between Taiwan and New Zealand grew 20% after the ANZTEC was implemented. During that same period, Taiwan also signed 24 agreements with Japan, including the Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement and a fisheries agreement. In addition, since the inauguration of the Taiwan-Japan Industrial Collaboration Bridging Project at the end of 2011 through October last year, there have been a total of 154 industrial cooperation projects. The value of Japanese cooperation with and investment in Taiwan during that period reaching NT$25.6 billion.
The president then explained that the ROC in recent years has worked to step up the pace of its participation in international economic and trade integration. Taiwan is still not on track to be a founding member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). These two regional economic blocs absorb 35% and 57% of Taiwan's exports, respectively, but in aggregate that figure rises to 70% because seven nations are signatories to both partnerships. President Ma pointed out that the only APEC member states that still aren't on track to enter the TPP or the RCEP are Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, and Russia. Compared to its major trading partners in the region, the ROC is thus seriously lagging in terms of regional economic integration. The government, he said, will thus continue to look to sign economic cooperation agreements with its key trading partners. At the same time, it will actively communicate with the United States to express its determination to join the TPP.
Looking ahead, the president remarked that the government will make every effort to join in the second round of TPP negotiations that are expected to be held this year. It will accelerate efforts designed to promote Taiwan's global deployment. The government also hopes that the long-stalled draft versions of the Cross-Strait Agreement Supervisory Act and the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement will be deliberated by the Legislative Yuan as soon as possible. President Ma then expressed hope that negotiations on the Cross-Strait Trade in Goods Agreement will be completed in a timely manner so the Agreement can be signed as soon as possible. This will help Taiwan keep pace with other countries around the world, and participate more fully in global economic and trade integration.
Among those also attending the event were former Vice President Vincent C. Siew (蕭萬長), Minister of Economic Affairs John C. C. Deng (鄧振中), and CommonWealth Magazine Group Chairperson Diane Ying (殷允芃).
【Source: Office of the President】