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Ma calls for trade liberalization, youth innovation

Taiwan Today, 24 November 2014 - President Ma Ying-jeou said Nov. 21 that Taiwan should fast-track trade liberalization to foster youth innovation and boost regional economic integration.

Ma calls for trade liberalization, youth innovationPresident Ma Ying-jeou (front, third left) shares the stage with youth entrepreneurs and innovators at the Taiwan Youth Round-table Conference Nov. 21 in Taipei City. (CNA)


“Taiwan has seen significant results in the shift from an efficiency- to innovation-driven economy,” Ma said. “This is underscored by projected economic growth of 3.41 percent for 2014, as well as the lowest unemployment rates in 14 years for the third quarter.”

The president made the remarks at the Taiwan Youth Round-table Conference in Taipei City at which he called for greater efforts in negotiating free trade agreements with regional economic partners.

“Since I took office in May 2008, Taiwan has made unprecedented headway in forging economic cooperation pacts,” he said. “Starting with the signing of Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with mainland China in 2010, Taiwan proceeded to ink a bilateral investment agreement with Japan in 2011, followed by trade partnership agreements with New Zealand and Singapore in 2013.

“And last year, we resumed talks with the U.S. government on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.”

Ma said that although the percentage of Taiwan’s FTA exports increased to 9.69 percent from 0.14 percent six years ago, the nation lags behind rivals such as South Korea, which is expected to extend its lead after a free trade agreement with mainland China takes effect early next year.

To combat this development, the president said the government is working to clear Taiwan’s path for accession to regional integration initiatives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. “We are also creating a favorable environment for the nation’s young innovators and entrepreneurs to compete in the global arena.”

Taiwan boasts considerable momentum in entrepreneurship, as reflected in the 8.2 percent score in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Activity index, higher than most innovation-driven economies, including Japan and mainland China, according to Ma.

“The Cabinet has floated a program to help the nation’s youth tap this advantage,” he said, adding that over the next three years, NT$16.7 billion (US$539.9 million) will be spent on incubating 3,130 startups and generating 150,000 jobs. “In addition, an interministerial platform coordinating 48 projects by 13 government agencies will be established to aid the entrepreneurship initiative.”

Riding on the back of the continued push for innovation-driven economy and trade liberalization, the president said he expects Taiwan’s youth to capitalize on more opportunities and stand tall on the international stage. (YHC-JSM)


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