Taiwan reported on Monday that it had launched the “New Southbound Policy” in September to focus on forging long-term comprehensive, multifaceted, two-way, reciprocal and mutually beneficial relations with the Asean and bloc’s dialogue partners.
These include South Asian countries, New Zealand and Australia, which have economic and trade cooperation, personnel exchanges, resource sharing and regional linkages with the region.
“We aim to forge a sense of economic community with these nations to help Taiwan identify new directions and build new momentum for its economic development,” says Dr. Gary Song-Huannlin, the Republic of China (Taiwan) representative to the Philippines during their 10th National Day Celebration at the Sofitel Hotel.
He said the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 30 percent of the world’s area and 60 percent of the world’s population. It enjoys growing influence in global political and economic development.
Song said Taiwan strives to safeguard the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait while respecting public opinion and democratic principles, “and 88.9 percent of Taiwanese, enjoying full democracy, are opposed to the unilateral unification [so-called One China] policy.”
He said the Taiwan government will adhere to public opinion and democratic principles, respect historical facts and the existing political foundation, and abide by its Constitution, the act governing relations between the peoples of the Taiwan area and the Mainland area, as well as other related laws and regulations.” Song said the Philippines and Taiwan have been enjoying mutually beneficial close relations.
“The bilateral cooperative ties are wide-ranging, including many areas ranging from trade, investment, industry, technology and science, agricultural, fishery, labor tourism, aviation, shipping, energy and even weather forecasting, etc.”
Song said in 2015 Taiwan was the Philippines’s fifth-largest trading partner, ninth export market and fourth import source of the Philippines.
“In terms of investment, in 2015, the total recorded Taiwanese investments in the Philippines jumped to P5.46 billion (about $121 million), an 83.4-percent increase—making Taiwan the Philippines’s third-fastest growing investment source.
He added that the Philippines, being Taiwan’s second-largest export partner, shipped $7.45 billion worth of goods. It is also the “11th-largest trading partner of Taiwan in the world, with bilateral trade amounting to $9.27 billion in 2015.”
According to Song, the Philippine-Taiwan partnership is also reflected in the presence of the 135,000 Filipinos are currently working in Taiwan mainly in the information and communications technology sector and optical products. Aside from the overseas Filipino workers, there are approximately 8,000 young Filipino married couples living in Taiwan. He said some 180,000 Taiwanese tourists visited the Philippines in 2015, an increase of 34.82 percent from last year, making Taiwan the sixth top visitors’ source.
“From January to June this year, Taiwan has already brought 111,184 visitors to the Philippines, an increase of 26.15 percent from last year and among the top 12 source of visitors for the Philippines. Taiwan posted the second-highest growth of tourist arrivals.”
Meanwhile, some 139,214 Filipino tourists visited Taiwan in 2015, an increase of 1.63 percent.
Song said Taiwan’s economic policy focuses on innovation, employment and equitable distribution, and his government will actively promote five major innovative industries—an Asian silicon valley, smart machinery green energy, bio-medicine and national defense, while developing new agriculture, as well as a circular economy.
These will drive Taiwan’s next wave of industrial growth and help realize the vision of a digital nation, smart island, high-value services sector and nuclear-free homeland, as well as a country marked by energy conservation and carbon emissions reduction. He said Taiwan was ranked first in Asia and No. 51 in the world in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders. “In 2015 Taiwan was the 27th-largest economy in the world, ranking 18th in imports, 17th in exports and fifth in foreign-exchanges reserves, which totaled $426 billion at the 2015year-end.”
Song said Taiwan ranks as 15th most competitive economy among the140 economies in the world and fourth in Asia behind Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong in the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 published by the World Economic Forum.
He said Taiwan ranks 11th out of 189 world economies surveyed for the Ease of Doing Business in the 2016 report issued by the World Bank, while it ranks fourth out of 186 economies surveyed in the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom released by the US-based Heritage Foundation.
“Taiwan ranks third out of 50 countries surveyed—behind Singapore and Switzerland—in terms of its overall investment environment in the first quarter of 2016 by the US-based Business Environment Risk Intelligence.
Song said in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Better Life Index of 2016, Taiwan’s living conditions and quality of life are ranked 16th out of the 39 countries, which is higher than Japan (No. 24) and Korea (No. 29).