President Tsai Ing-wen, attending a Chinese New Year luncheon for representatives of Taiwan-invested enterprises based in mainland China, on February 5 expressed that the government will engage in sincere dialogue and negotiations across the strait with utmost good faith, in order to bring about positive interaction and mutually beneficial, win-win cooperation in trade relations. She also called on the Beijing authorities to acknowledge and resolve the operational difficulties faced by Taiwanese firms, to eliminate political interference, and to provide joint guarantees of the lawful rights and interests of those firms.
The president's remarks are as follows:
Today is day nine of the Chinese lunar new year, which according to our traditional beliefs is the birthday of the Jade Emperor. Let me first of all extend my best wishes to all of you for a happy new year—I wish you the best of luck in this Year of the Rooster, along with peace, good health, and prosperity in your business affairs.
Since our new government took office on May 20 last year, I have met with our mainland-based Taiwanese business friends three times, during the Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and today at New Years. During this period, we have endeavored to establish a strong base for Taiwan's future development, and we now see some initial results.
In the economy, implementation has begun in several areas of our "5+2 industrial innovation program". We have also completed amendment of the Electricity Act, thus helping establish a sound market environment for the development of green energy industries.
To support industrial innovation, we will continue to review and improve any areas of insufficiency in law and regulation; in particular, deliberations have already begun in the legislature for amendment of the Fundamental Science and Technology Act. Further, harmonizing our legal framework with international norms will enable us to attract greater investment and capable new professionals, helping to invigorate the transformation and upgrading of our industries.
We will also continue work on various reforms, including improved labor rights and benefits for foreign workers, raising the basic wage, and implementing a five-day work week. At the same time, we will continue to promote reform of the pension system, and we hope that this spring we will be able to submit related draft legislation for deliberation by the legislature.
I especially want to emphasize that the ultimate goal of these reforms is creating a favorable environment for the sustainable development of our economy. This is a must as we seek to build our long-term national competitiveness.
While there has been a gradual return to positive trends in Taiwan's overall economic activity since May 20 last year, the recovery is not yet as strong as it needs to be. The government has therefore made the revitalization of Taiwan's economy its number one mission for this year. In the future, we will enhance our efforts at implementation in all areas to accelerate measures to restructure the economy.
At the same time, we will adopt active financial policies to expand infrastructure investment across-the-board, including local infrastructure projects and the basic infrastructure that will be required by succeeding generations.
In March of this year, the Executive Yuan will propose a forward-looking infrastructure plan covering green energy, aquatic environments, digital technology, and railway infrastructures as an important step toward carrying out public infrastructure investment to revitalize the domestic economy. We hope that the combination of short-term measures with medium and long-term structural reforms will enable us to set Taiwan's economy on a stable course for long-term development.
This year appears likely to be a year of great change in the world economy. As we face a number of uncertainties, it becomes even more important for Taiwan to strengthen its adaptive capabilities and to develop a more diverse set of external trade and economic relationships.
The economies of Asian nations rely to a great extent on foreign trade, but during the upcoming 20 years, Asia will also develop into the world's most important market.
Taiwan must play a constructive role in the Asian region. We will vigorously promote a New Southbound Policy to strengthen cooperation with the countries of the ASEAN region and South Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand.
We will also roll out more flexible and multi-faceted policies for external trade, as we continue to enhance bilateral talks and negotiations with our principal trading partner nations and regions, including the US, Japan, and the EU. By this means we hope to deepen economic cooperation that seeks mutual benefits and win-win situations with these countries and promote the connection of Taiwan's economy and industries to world markets, ensuring greater benefits for all.
I also know that, as we are faced with recent changes of mainland China's economy and new developments in the world economy, many Taiwanese firms are in the process of redeploying their resources and integrating their domestic and foreign or their cross-strait spheres of operation.
I would now like to invite everyone to participate with us in this epochal project to restructure and upgrade Taiwan's economy. Regardless of whether you take part in our expanded domestic investment plans, or cooperate in implementing our New Southbound Policy by planting the seeds for new endeavors overseas, I look forward to pooling our efforts and working together with you. In this way we may together overcome any difficulties and obstructions that may arise, and build new prospects for Taiwan's economic development.
Your participation will not only make contributions to Taiwan, but will also be able to grasp entirely new business opportunities. Taiwan will forever be our shared homeland, and now is the perfect time at which to once again take Taiwan as a fresh starting point to launch any new endeavors.
I recently learned from the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) that member firms in The Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland are planning a return to Taiwan, where they will invest in the Sanyi Wood Sculpture Park in Miaoli County. They hope to take advantage of the wonderful natural environment in Sanyi Township and to plan with local artisans for the development of a wood-sculpture school and tourist factory, along with expansion of the Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum, to promote tourism and industrial upgrading in Sanyi.
This is an excellent concept. We will gladly provide generous support to these Taiwanese firms returning to invest in Taiwan, and will ask the relevant agencies to provide active assistance to help promote this investment plan.
I have always believed that when close cooperation between government and private sector entities is possible, it can provide us with the greater strength we need to overcome any difficulties or challenges Taiwan may face in the future.
I also understand that Taiwanese enterprises are most concerned about the development of cross-strait relations. Economic and trade relations across the strait have been developing for over 30 years, and have had a profound influence on the lives of the people on both sides. Today, as we face new circumstances in the international arena, along with ever-closer economic and trade relations across the strait, both sides have shared interests, whether in terms of cross-strait economics and trade or regional development, as well as space for mutually beneficial cooperation.
Therefore, we must adopt a new mindset and new approaches as we mutually build new models for cross-strait interactions. Only in this way can we answer the collective hope for peace from the people on both sides of the strait, as well as the different parties in the region.
I, along with the governing team, have always been concerned with the development of Taiwanese firms in mainland China and their rights and interests. In the future we will request that the Mainland Affairs Council, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the SEF, and related experts engage in even more intensive research and planning to strengthen guarantees for the rights and interests of Taiwan-invested enterprises, and to actively assist Taiwanese firms with restructuring and upgrading as well as returning to invest in Taiwan.
We are very willing to engage in sincere dialogue and negotiations across the strait in complete good faith, in order to bring about positive interaction, mutual benefits, and win-win situations in economic and trade relations.
We also call on the Beijing authorities to acknowledge and resolve the operational difficulties faced by Taiwanese firms, to eliminate political interference, and to provide joint guarantees of the lawful rights and interests of those firms, so as to demonstrate the kind of active, positive stance needed for good-faith interactions across the Taiwan Strait.
Finally, I would like to thank all of our friends here from the commercial sphere for the valuable advice and suggestions they have provided over the past eight months during the promotion of reforms by our new government.
I also know that there may be instances where our governing team has not responded quickly enough or completely enough. During this new year, we will humbly undertake to reflect on and improve any such shortcomings in order to better respond to the wishes of all of our people.
Once again, I extend my best wishes to all our friends for a happy new year, prosperous business. May peace be with your families. We will continue to do our best on your behalf, and ask that everyone give us your continued support and guidance. Thank you!