Wed, May 07, 2008 - Page 11 News List

Ma relying on links with China, tourism to salvage pledge


President-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended his target of 6 percent annual economic growth, saying that closer trade ties with China would help create a “mini boom.”

“It’s a tough job for sure, but we can only achieve our ideas to revitalize our economy by having this target, otherwise we won’t be able to do it,” Ma told AFP.

Ma swept to a landslide victory in March largely on pledges to improve the economy; one of those pledges was a target of 6 percent annual economic growth.

The government has forecast growth of 4.32 percent this year, after the economy enjoyed 6.39 percent growth in the final quarter of 2007 and 5.13 percent growth for the first quarter of this year.

The World Bank last month forecast the economy’s expansion would slow to 4.3 percent this year as a slowdown spreads in the US, weakening demand for exports.

Although high oil and food prices would “set a very difficult ceiling” for growth, Ma said that expanding air links with China and opening Taiwan to Chinese tourists would create a “mini-boom” that would boost the economy.

Vice president-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) also said yesterday that the economy may fail to achieve 6 percent growth this year, but he restated plans to spend NT$3.99 trillion (US$131 billion) on 12 projects over eight years to boost domestic demand.

“International economic conditions are not very good in the first half,” Siew said during a speech in Taipei. “It will be difficult for us to reach 6 percent GDP growth this year.”

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