President Tsai Ing-wen attended the "2018 Taiwan Business Alliance Conference" on the morning of October 8. She explained that the government is working to ensure an open and dynamic environment that promotes innovation and sustainable growth, and is determined to ensure that Taiwan is not just one of the world's best places to invest, but also a springboard for business expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.
A transcript of the president's English remarks follows:
It is a pleasure to be here today with so many leading companies from Taiwan and around the world.
Since it was first launched 15 years ago, the Taiwan Business Alliance Conference has attracted businesses whose trade and investments are essential to Taiwan’s development. And I trust that this year's conference will continue to encourage more companies to invest here.
Today, I want to say a few words about what my administration is doing to improve and restructure Taiwan's economy. Thanks to my team's efforts, I am pleased to see that Taiwan's economic indicators have improved year by year. In 2017, our GDP grew by 2.89%, the highest rate in three years. In the first half of this year, our growth rate exceeded 3%.
Exports were a contributing factor, as total exports in 2017 were the highest in 10 years. In the first six months of 2018, our exports were up 6.5% year-on-year.
While the economy continues to grow, we are also creating more jobs. The unemployment rate in August this year fell to 3.69%, the lowest rate in 18 years.
During this important period of economic transformation, we also know that to deliver on the promises we made two years ago, we need to recognize today's new challenges.
One of those challenges is rapid technological development. While artificial intelligence and technology can make our lives much more convenient, people are asking if we are ready for the fourth industrial revolution.
Faced with intensifying competition between global trading powers, people wonder if Taiwan can meet unprecedented challenges in the global economy.
And my answer to all these questions is: Yes. We have been working tirelessly to make our industries more innovative, create a sustainable economy, and ensure Taiwan's continued growth and development.
We are also investing in infrastructure. The Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Plan is driving investment at the local and national levels. We are looking to upgrade our rail transport sector, as well as our water, digital, and energy infrastructure.
And through our 5+2 industrial innovation program, we have spurred innovation and growth in industries such as smart machinery, the Internet of Things, biomedicine, and green energy.
Our machinery industry has already joined the semiconductor industry and panel industry, becoming this country's third "trillion-NT-dollar industry." And we expect the IoT industry will be the next.
Under that program, our "Asia Silicon Valley" initiative has also attracted multinationals like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM, and CISCO to invest in Taiwan.
While economies around the world are embracing new low-carbon technologies to promote clean and sustainable growth, our 5+2 program has also unleashed the commercial potential of our green energy sector.
This March, we began construction of the Shalun Smart Green Energy Science City in Tainan, a future engine of our energy sector. A month later, we completed the tendering process and selected seven companies to undertake wind farm development in Chuanghua County, which has some of the best wind farms in the world.
Our goal is to have green energy account for 20% of Taiwan's energy mix by 2025, with 5.5 gigawatts of installed wind power capacity and 20 gigawatts of solar PV capacity.
To attract more companies like yours to become our partners in tackling some of the biggest challenges of our time, we are working to create a dynamic and investment-friendly environment.
Since September last year, Premier Lai has presided over a series of "Inter-ministerial Meetings on Boosting Investment in Taiwan," a forum for our officials to address key issues.
And we expect to see more investment in Taiwan. We are working to meet the needs of industry, particularly in terms of water, electricity, talent, labor, and land. And we are already seeing the results of our policies.
In the past year alone, different ministries and agencies have made over 300 changes to modernize our regulatory system. We are deregulating to ensure that Taiwan will be one of the best places in the world to grow your businesses.
The National Development Council has also established a Deregulation Advisory Platform to engage with the public and business sectors. That platform helps us understand the needs of businesses, and strengthen our partnership with you.
Internationally, Taiwan wants to promote a vision in which we can all grow together, and benefit from mutually beneficial cooperative ventures. I trust that if we can all achieve sustainable growth together, we can ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.
Since I launched the New Southbound Policy two years ago, we have created and renewed cooperative ventures with the nations of South and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand.
This effort covers a wide array of topics, ranging from empowering future talent in this region, strengthening people-to-people ties, and helping partner nations build capacity in agriculture, public health, and ICT.
In 2017, bilateral trade between Taiwan and the partner countries under our New Southbound Policy grew by around 15% year-on-year. Taiwan investment in these countries rose by over 50%, and approved investment by our partner countries in Taiwan also increased by around 15%.
While we are working to ensure an open and dynamic environment that promotes innovation and sustainable growth, I am also determined to ensure that Taiwan is not just one of the world's best places to invest, but a springboard for you to expand your business in the region.
So I want to thank all the business leaders and representatives for being with us today. Together, let us be partners in creating a sustainable future that benefits us all now, and for generations to come. Thank you.