Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said on Monday that the gov–ernment will continue pursuing trade liberalization so as to ensure the island nation is not left on the sidelines of Asia-Pacific economic integration.
“Other than implementing regulatory easings and open market measures, Taiwan must continue economic and trade collaboration with mainland China en route to participating in expanded regional integration,” he said.
“It is imperative Taiwan’s ruling and opposition parties work together to address these critical issues in a practical and rational manner. In this way, the country’s economic development will remain on track for the benefit of all,” Ma added.
The president’s remarks came in response to “Taiwan Leaves Itself Behind,” an article published on August 4 in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
According to the WSJ, removing obstacles to cross-strait trade and investment is key to maintaining Taiwan’s competitiveness. An important part of this process involves finalizing ratification of the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, and easing anxieties whipped up by student protesters over Taiwan’s economic exchanges with China.
Economic isolation and resisting freer trade and economic reform fly in the face of reality and will only damage the nation’s competitiveness, the WSJ added.
The consequences of such actions take on great significance for Taiwan given Seoul and Beijing are close to finalizing a free trade agreement. If implemented by year-end as expected, around 2 percent to 5 percent of Taiwan’s exports to China could be replaced by South Korean products, with flat panels and machinery among the sectors taking the biggest hit, according to the WSJ.
Ma said the article hammers home the predicament and challenges facing Taiwan. It also underscores the fact that cross-strait collaboration, globalization and trade liberalization are growing trends reflecting the aspirations of the people.