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President Lee's Remarks at the 20th Joint Conference of the ROC-USA and USA-ROC Economic Councils

Mr.Chairman,Distinguished Guests,Ladies and Gentlemen:


It is an honor for me to be invited to speak before the 20th Joint Conference of the ROC-USA and USA-ROC Economic Councils held in Taipei today. First of all, on behalf of the government and people of the Republic of China, I would like to extend a warm welcome to the distinguished guests coming from afar.


Ever since its first gathering, the joint conferences of the two esteemed Economic Councils have made significant contributions to the increased exchange of businessmen and entrepreneurs,as well as cooperation in trade, investment and technology between the Republic of China and the United States. The conferences have also provided important channels of communication helpful to the strengthening of friendly ties between our two countries. This year's conference, with its theme on "The Asia-Pacific Growth---the ROC Factor," will discuss in depth my country's developmental experience and envision a promising future for cooperation and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.


Looking back on her process of development, the Republic of China on Taiwan was in need of foreign aid at an earlier stage owing to a lack of resources. Nevertheless, with the joint efforts of our government and people, we have achieved marvelous results. Beginning from the mid-80s, the Republic of China has become a nation of outbound investment and helped boost the economic growth of Southeast Asia as well as mainland China. As of 1995, according to statistics, our total direct investment in Southeast Asian countries amounted to 27.8 billion US dollars and our total indirect investment in the mainland reached 25.5 billion US dollars. At present, we are the largest foreign investor in Vietnam, the second largest both in Malaysia and mainland China, the third largest in the Philippines, the fourth largest in Thailand and the seventh largest in Indonesia, thus making valuable contributions to the economic development and employment of these countries.


The expanding investment of the Republic of China in the Asia-Pacific region has also led to an increase of our bilateral trade with the area. The percentage of our trade with the Asia-Pacific nations out of our total foreign trade increased from 35.2% in 1980 to 55.2% in 1995. In other words, our trade with Asia-Pacific nations is now more than half of our total foreign trade. This indicates that as our trade with countries in this area grows rapidly, we have also developed among us a mutually beneficial relationship based on complimentary manufacturing industries and international division of labor. The Republic of China is thus playing an increasingly important role in the Asia-Pacific economy.


Being a major member of the global economic community and with abundant economic power, the Republic of China also wishes to fulfill her duties by contributing to the international community. My country became a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in 1991 and since then we have actively participated in various APEC meetings and activities. Our substantive contributions in the areas of trade,investment,technology exchange and foreign aid have earned the recognition of all Asia-Pacific countries. Meanwhile, we submitted our application to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1990. In order to become a member of the World Trade Organization, we are conducting a series of trade consultations with WTO members and are pushing for further liberalization and globalization at home to meet intermational standards.


In addition, in order to cope with the rapidly changing domestic and foreign economic environment, to break through the bottleneck of future development and to prepare for the 21th century, the Republic of China is vigorously promoting a plan to develop Taiwan into an Asia-Pacific Regional Operations Center. We hope to take advantage of Taiwan's strategic geographic location in the West Pacific to establish six operations centers for manufacturing, sea transportation, air transportation, finance, telecommunications and media. We sincerely welcome multinational corporations to come and invest and make Taiwan an economic bridge between the Asia-Pacific region and the industrialized countries.


On our way toward the 21th century,the Republic of China is confident and determined to be a partner of the industrialized countries, especially the United States, and play a constructivc role in building a brighter future for our region. We warmly welcome American multinationals to choose Taiwan as their base for expanding trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific area. We look forward to their sharing of experiences and technology with us and strengthening our economic and trade ties for the mutual benefit and prosperity of our two countries.


The increasing inter-dependency in the global community has led to closer relations between the United States and the Asia-Pacific nations. The relations between the United States and the Republic of China will also develop in multiple directions. We are certain that enhancing substantive relations between our two countries will advance US interests in this area, and help the ROC to further its economic liberalization, political democratization and social pluralization. It is our sincere hope that our two countries will continue to build upon the existing foundation to promote peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.


Ladies and gentlemen, among members of the international community, the United States, in particular, has been most generous in rendering moral support and providing assistance to the Republic of China on her way toward modernization. Today, after we have achieved concrete results in our economic and political development, we have good reason to believe that the US will remain our strongest source of support as we march with firm steps toward the new century. It is therefore my fervent hope that our two countries, which have mutual beliefs and idealism, will work even closer together to create a new Asia-Pacific era.


In closing, may I wish the conference a complete success and ourdistinguished guests good health and happiness. Thank you.

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