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  • President Tsai's remarks at 50th Anniversary of Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry
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President Tsai's remarks at 50th Anniversary of Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
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A transcript of the president's remarks follows:

Mr. Jemal Inaishvili, president of the Confederation of Asia Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry;
Mr. Osamu Shinobe, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ANA Group;
Mr. Chung-yu Wang (王鍾渝), Chairman of the Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association;
Mr. Por-fong Lin (林伯豐), Chairman of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, Taiwan;
and distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Good Morning. Let me start by welcoming everyone to Taiwan. I’m pleased to see an extraordinary group of people from across one of the fastest growing and most dynamic regions in the world. I hope you see that Taiwan is open for business, and will consider us a partner for your future business ventures.

I’d also like to congratulate the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry on its 50th anniversary. As one of the biggest private commercial organizations in Asia, its efforts have been instrumental in advancing economic cooperation in Asia. We look forward to its continuing success in the years ahead.

1. The Rise of Asia

The theme of this conference cannot be overstated. In this new century, and especially after the 2008 financial crisis, Asia has become the most important force driving the global economy. By one projection, Asia’s share of the global economy in 2030 will either equal or surpass those of North America and Europe combined.

The key to this impressive performance is economic liberalization and integration, which have in turn led to increased trade, investment, and economic growth. Asian countries have formed tight industrial linkages and divisions of labor, which have contributed to Asia becoming a “factory for the world.”

But the demand side is rapidly growing as well. Asia’s rising middle class is creating a vast consumer market. International brands and businesses have now shifted their attention, and in many cases, their main focus to the region. In the near future, I expect we’ll see Asia become the “market for the world” as well.

2. Economic Integration in Asia

As the center of the world economy shifts, Asian countries must take on an even greater responsibility for economic liberalization and integration. In the past few years, Asian countries have made great progress on regional trade regimes, including in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But with the U.S. likely to withdraw from the TPP amid growing protectionism, we must do even more.

Asia’s dependence on trade means that it must step up and take the lead to ensure that regional economic integration continues to take place. Our economies are highly complementary, which is conducive to the sharing of resources, talent, and markets. We can expand economies of scale and use resources more effectively. We should also engage in inclusive negotiations, open up markets, expand trade and mutual investment, and through this, spark a new wave of growth.

By doing so, we will not only build a stronger sense of community. We will also leverage our collective strengths to reduce economic uncertainty and build Asia into the world’s most economically important region.

3. Taiwan’s Indispensable Role

Within this framework, Taiwan has always played an indispensable role in Asia’s development. Our companies have expanded to every corner of the region, and we have always made our support for further economic integration clear.

Furthermore, we have always believed that Taiwan should do more, and we intend to do more. While we are working on a new model for economic development, we look forward to sharing our ideas with the regional community. This includes new production methods and the provision of innovative lifestyle choices. We believe that together, we can become “innovators, sharers, and providers of service.”

Our New Southbound Policy will play a major part in this. My government is working to build stronger links with countries in ASEAN and South Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand. We foresee new opportunities for cooperation in economics, trade, talent exchange, education, tourism, and culture.

We have also recently set up a new cabinet-level Office of Trade Negotiations. We seek to begin wide-ranging negotiations with various countries to discuss both bilateral and multilateral cooperation. At the same time, we will work to bring our domestic laws into alignment with international norms and standards.

4. Achieving High-Quality Growth

In closing, I want to emphasize that we can work together to develop Asia through trade and experience sharing. But we cannot do so in absence of what I refer to as ‘high-quality economic growth.’

This means that economic development in Asia must respond effectively to the issue of income inequality and the fact that trade is not beneficial to all. Asian countries must continue to prioritize the growth of SMEs, job opportunities, and income distribution. We must also encourage participation from women and young people, so that the benefits of growth can be more evenly distributed.

Asia has accomplished much over the past century. This is a great cause for hope in a period of economic uncertainty. Looking to the future, I believe that if Asian countries can work together, we have the ability to harness the full potential of the fastest growing and most dynamic region in the world.

Together, we can create an Asian Century built on growth that is also inclusive, sustainable, and, of course, innovative.

Thank you all.
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