WITH United States (US) economic policies remaining unclear under a Donald J. Trump presidency, Taiwan is looking at further strengthening its relations with its neighbors in the Asian region.
This developed as the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office gathered together recipients of the Taiwan Scholarship Program from various government agencies, educational institutions and cultural sector during its annual alumni association gathering
According to Ambassador Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, Taiwan is mulling over its options with the US as it prepares for any eventuality with the economic directions president-elect Trump will take.
“An America first policy will affect the geo-political landscape,” he said. Lin said if Trump will take on a protectionist approach with its economy, they will look to invest more and increase bilateral cooperation within the region with the Philippines high on its list.
“There might be a new situation unfolding. This is why our New Southbound Policy is important. We will look at the Philippines and Asia for exports and investments. It will enjoy most favored status,” Lin said.
Currently, Lin said Taiwan exports to the Philippines high-end petrol products, electronics and information communications technology (ICT) products.
“Some of our electronic exports are assembled in the Philippines and then exported to the US. We also export computers, notebooks and mobile phones,” he said.
Lin said outside of the Philippines, Taiwan is also looking to increase economic activities with Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.
Government data showed that, for the first nine months of the year, Taiwan is the country’s eight biggest exporter with a 3.55-percent market share and seventh biggest importer with 6.46-percent market share.
Another option Taiwan is looking at is for it to directly invest in the US once it looks inward economically.
“We are still not certain yet on Trump. We are looking at protectionism and at tariffs, as it will impact our exports to the US. We might invest directly to the US,” Lin said.
He said the US is their second-biggest export market after China, with more than 20-percent share of its market and that their ICT products have no custom tariff there.
Lin said Taiwan companies might just start operations in the US if it goes the protectionist route. However, he said doing so might increase operations cost and that there might be concerns on the supply chain side.
Meanwhile, during the Taiwan Alumni Association Gathering, Lin again reiterated that President Tsai Ing-wen will focus on forging long-term comprehensive, multi-faceted, two-way, reciprocal and mutually beneficial relations with countries within the region.
Lin cited as an example the Philippine-Taiwan educational networking between the University of the Philippines and the Southern Taiwan Universities Alliance. He believes that such educational exchange will serve as a catalyst in promoting mutual understanding between Taiwan and the Philippines.
“The Taiwan-Philippines relationship has never been stronger than it is today. By broadening multifaceted cooperation with your gracious support, we can have more exchanges, more mutual understanding, more educational and cultural exchanges and more investments. We will eventually create a mutually beneficial win-win situation,” Lin said during the event.
Image credits: Alysa Salen