The 2016 Taiwan Alumni Association Gathering, organized by Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines, was successfully held on November 26. The event was attended by a large gathering of about 100 guests and brought together recipients of the Taiwan Scholarship Program, representatives of various Philippine government departments, political parties, media, academia, as well as cultural communities.
Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, Representative of Taiwan(ROC) to the Philippines, delivered an inspiring speech as the keynote speaker to reflect on Taiwan’s “New Southbound Policy” and elaborated prospects of future cooperation between Taiwan and the Philippines.
In his speech, Representative Lin pointed out that the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 30 percent of the world’s area and 60 percent of the world’s population, and enjoys growing influence in global political and economic development. However, Taiwan has long neglected and overlooked this region. To diversify and balance our regional ties, The ROC (Taiwan) President Tsai Ing-wen has been launching the “New Southbound Policy” since September 2016. Taiwan will focus on forging long-term comprehensive, multi-faceted, two-way, reciprocal and mutually beneficial relations with 18 countries—including members of ASEAN, South Asian countries, New Zealand, and Australia—in the areas of economic and trade cooperation, personnel exchanges, resource sharing, and regional linkages.
Taiwan is also aiming to forge a sense of economic community with these nations to help Taiwan identify new directions and build new momentum for its economic development.
Representative Lin emphasized that, in time of a new era for Taiwan and the Philippines, the Philippines, under the “New Southbound Policy,” is seen as the most important country as the gateway for Taiwan to expand multifaceted cooperation and partnership with ASEAN countries.
As the Philippines plays an important role under this policy, Taiwan will strengthen cooperation with the Philippines in various fields, such as trade and investment, agriculture, fisheries aquaculture, technology, small and medium enterprises, ICT, green technology, climate change, education, and culture.
In this regard, Representative Lin urged Taiwanese entrepreneurs to diversify their investments to the Philippines, as the Philippine infrastructure has been continuously improved and the efficiency of operations at ports has also been increasing.
Meanwhile, Representative Lin called on Filipino entrepreneurs to engage potential Taiwanese partners in agribusiness, manufacturing, banking, transport and communications, infrastructure and real estate, and tourism and logistics.
“The Philippines has the biggest English-speaking population in ASEAN and lots of energetic and talented professionals. It is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and its economic fundamental is good and strong. The Filipino consumer market is young whose purchasing power has been one of the best among ASEAN countries. As the Philippines is poised for high and sustained growth, its market is one of the biggest ASEAN markets. All of these factors help explain why we should work in partnership, I am sure that our two countries will benefit from it,” Representative Lin further explained as to why the Philippines is selected as the country being prioritized by Taiwan for the “New Southbound Policy”
Representative Lin further articulated the core value of the “New Southbound Policy” is underlined by people-to-people engagement. It is based on this rationale, TECO, under Representative Lin’s guidance, endeavors to promote people to people interactions and understandings. One example is to establish the Philippine-Taiwan Educational Networking between the University of the Philippines System and Southern Taiwan Universities Alliance. He believes that such educational exchange will serve as a catalyst in promoting mutual understanding between Taiwan and the Philippines.
Representative Lin also stressed the importance of tourism as a channel to enhance people-to-people exchange and that TECO has made tremendous efforts to ease visa-free requirements for Filipinos by implementing the Online Visa Application (E-Visa) last October.
Representative Lin concluded that with the backing of President Tsai’s “New Southbound Policy,” he is optimistic that the substantive bilateral relations between Taiwan and the Philippines will grow from strength to strength in the years to come. He expressed that right now is the best and opportune timing to work together: “The Taiwan-Philippines relationship has never been stronger than it is today. By broadening multifaceted cooperation with your gracious support, we can have more exchanges, more mutual understanding, more educational and cultural exchanges and more investments. We will eventually create a mutually beneficial win-win situation.”