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President Tsai attends 2016 Forum on Opportunities for New Southbound Policy
President Tsai attends 2016 Forum on Opportunities for New Southbound Policy

On the morning of December 21, President Tsai Ing-wen attended the 2016 Forum on Opportunities for New Southbound Policy, where she elaborated that the New Southbound Policy has already started and both the private and public sectors should simultaneously work in a two-pronged approach to promote it. Through wide-ranging discussions and cooperation, these two sectors can establish a new type of partnership with the countries targeted by the New Southbound Policy.

The following is a translation of President Tsai's remarks:

Today, I'm very happy to be taking part in this Forum on Opportunities for New Southbound Policy, which has been jointly sponsored by the Economic Daily News, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, and other organizations. I want to specially thank the Economic Daily News for responding to the government's call to cooperate in promoting the New Southbound Policy by organizing today's event.

I hope that this brainstorming session among the elite members of Taiwan's business, government, and academic communities will help us map out a clearer development path for our New Southbound work and identify more potential business opportunities, thereby spurring a more comprehensive approach and instituting a wholly new mode of economic and trade relations between Taiwan and the countries targeted by the New Southbound Policy. For the sake of brevity, by the way, I'll be referring to such countries as "New Southbound countries."

Since my inauguration this past May 20, the government has been actively promoting the New Southbound Policy. With this in mind, we have rolled out guidelines, a promotion plan, and a work plan to pave the way for the Policy's implementation. Focusing on long-term goals, and unwavering in purpose, we are firmly moving ahead with one concrete measure after another designed to push the Policy forward.

I want to take this opportunity to stress once again exactly why we've adopted the New Southbound Policy and are setting it as an important objective of expanding our overseas economic and trade ties—we've done this because we've seen where the future of Asia lies, and we have come to understand the key role that Taiwan should play in that future.

Asia is the global center of economic gravity in the 21st century. Trends in population, GDP, total trade, and the pace of trade growth clearly show that Asia is now the most important engine of economic development in the world.

It is estimated that by about the year 2030, the size of the Asian economy may even outstrip that of North America and Europe combined.

And within Asia, the emerging economic power of Southeast Asia and South Asia has become evident in recent years. In terms of both the pace of economic growth and future market potential, these regions can well be regarded as Asia's future stars.

In the process of Asia's economic development over the past several decades, Taiwan has played important roles by acting as a resource consolidator and a provider of capital and technology. Taiwan has established very close long-term economic and trade ties with the nations of Southeast Asia and South Asia, and also with New Zealand and Australia.

Today, as we look ahead to the future of Asia, we must be a more active participant in regional development, and we must redefine Taiwan's roles within Asia on the basis of new trends and needs.

On another front, we are also working to create a new model of economic development. We are striving to formulate completely new modes of production and new ways of living. We are seeking to establish a new paradigm for the Asian economy, and to share it with other countries. We need to share resources and markets, and together build the Asian economy of the future. Therein lies the important significance of our efforts to promote the New Southbound Policy.

We believe that, our private and public sectors can simultaneously work in a two-pronged approach to promote the New Southbound Policy.

On the private-sector side, we are encouraging enterprises to seize upon major potential business opportunities and boldly establish an expanded presence in the New Southbound countries. In doing so, they would be acting strictly in accordance with market principles.

As enterprises develop southward, our government will also do its part by providing needed help in the form of financial assistance, technical advisory services, and information.

In addition, we will also engage in active talks to build up various institutional arrangements designed to help enterprises overcome barriers to investment and business activities. We intend to meaningfully safeguard investor interests and reduce the overall level of risk.

We will also make resources available. We will work via industry associations as well as individual companies or groups to create a strength of numbers that will help small and medium businesses join the ranks of those heading south.

At the same time, we are also encouraging private-sector think tanks and NGOs to step up cooperation with New Southbound countries. We would like to see them establish a network of private-sector exchanges that take place on multiple levels and across the entire social spectrum.

Several dozen public- and private-sector enterprises have signed letters of intent or otherwise announced plans regarding new investments, or expansions of existing investments, in a total of 18 New Southbound countries.

Many think tanks and NGOs are also holding activities connected in one way or another with the New Southbound Policy, which is gradually beginning to pick up steam.

As for the public sector, we hope that, through wide-ranging discussions, exchanges, and cooperation, we can establish a new type of partnership with the New Southbound countries.

In the current phase of implementation, in addition to taking pragmatic measures to promote high-level exchanges and reciprocal visits, and establishing mechanisms for communication and talks, we will also make full use of Taiwan's unique soft power—especially our wide-ranging experience in such areas as medical care, education, high technology, agriculture, and small and medium business—to promote multilateral and bilateral cooperation with New Southbound countries.

In addition, we are preparing to hold events and exhibitions on Taiwan in major cities in New Southbound countries to better familiarize people there with Taiwan. And our Council of Agriculture has established a "Taiwan International Agricultural Development Company" that will work to develop agribusiness opportunities in the New Southbound countries.

And most importantly, we have come to realize that "people-to-people ties" are of the utmost importance if the New Southbound Policy is to be implemented and gain serious momentum.

Moving forward, in implementing the New Southbound Policy we will make a concerted effort to gradually forge among the New Southbound countries "a sense of economic community"—a feeling that arises from connectedness and mutual understanding that facilitate exchanges and linkages between people.

With respect to the cross-border movement of people, we have already simplified procedures for the issuance of Taiwan entry visas to people from several New Southbound countries. Tourist arrivals from these countries have increased significantly over the past several months, so the effectiveness of these measures is starting to become apparent.

Our government will annually expand budgetary allocations to boost personnel exchanges, by which I'm referring to such things as: a scholarship program for students from Southeast Asia who wish to study in Taiwan; programs to develop the skills of Southeast Asian immigrants and their children so that they can lend their talents in support of New Southbound economic and trade undertakings; and provision of financial aid for young people from Taiwan who wish to work, study, or act as volunteers in Southeast Asia.

We are also actively working on plans for a comprehensive training project for personnel from the business and academic communities. The idea is to gradually turn Taiwan into an incubator for business talent from the New Southbound countries.

The Asian economy is highly reliant upon global trade, so there is a high degree of interdependence among economies in the region. Faced with a possible slowing of the trend toward trade liberalization, uncertainty over the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and other new circumstances, Asia needs to be all the more active in pushing for trade liberalization and economic integration.

And finally, I want to emphasize that implementation of the New Southbound Policy has already started. Our public and private sectors need to be clearly aware of the opportunities that are out there. We need to pool our efforts and resources, show firm resolve, and be nimble yet sure-footed in opening doors for our New Southbound initiatives, so that Taiwan can play an entirely new role in Asia and move past new milestones on its march forward.

Once again, I want to thank the sponsors of this event, and I look forward to a very successful forum.

President Tsai delivers a speech at the 2016 Forum on Opportunities for New Southbound Policy.
President Tsai poses for a photo with the participants attending the 2016 Forum on Opportunities for New Southbound Policy.
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