Fri, Dec 16, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Multiple free-trade zones possible: Wu

TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP:The zone, or zones would be modeled on South Korea’s Incheon Free Economic Zone, but unlike it, would make use of existing land

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporters

Despite expectations, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday did not identify Greater -Kaohsiung as a test free-trade zone in line with the trade and investment rules of the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

In a press statement released after the Cabinet approved a proposal on test zones for the TPP -agreement, Wu said that “each county and city has an equal chance” and that the “TPP test zone is not limited to only one region.”

The regions around Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taichung Harbor and the Port of -Kaohsiung, as well as the eastern region covering Hualien County, Taitung County and Yilan County, all stand a good chance to be chosen as a free-trade test zone for the TPP agreement, the statement said.

Wu said that the selection would depend on the level of consensus within the region and whether the region was well prepared for free trade.

Under the proposal presented by Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥), a task force led by a minister without portfolio will be set up under the Executive Yuan to work out a specific plan to develop test zones for the TPP in one year and to push through revisions of rules and regulations that are currently contrary to the spirit of free trade in two years.

Taiwan plans to establish free-trade zones as part of efforts to prepare the country for accession into the TPP in 10 years.

The TPP is a trade agreement being negotiated between the US and eight other partners in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei and Peru.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has repeatedly said he was determined to create the conditions for Taiwan to secure entry into the TPP agreement within the next -decade, but the administration did not formally propose to join TPP talks during last month’s APEC meeting, in which Japan, Canada and Mexico declared their interest in accession.

Shih yesterday told reporters that the government’s test zone was modeled after the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) in South Korea.

Officially designated by the South Korean government in August 2003, the IFEZ spans 20,938 hectares, and serves as a logistics complex and an international business center. It also houses residences, schools, hospitals and shopping and -entertainment centers.

Taiwan’s test zone would play a similar role to that of the IFEZ, which attracts multinational corporations to set up headquarters, deploys high-tech solutions for convenient customs clearance and is a model of an intelligent city, Shih said.

However, in contrast to the IFEZ, which is built on reclaimed land, Taiwan’s zone would have to make use of existing land and infrastructure, he said, saying that the government may designate more than one zone.

Additional reporting by CNA

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