Mon, Nov 25, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Business leaders return from US with warnings

TPP OR BUST:Business leaders warned that the nation’s exports are not only stagnant, but are shrinking, while South Korean exports increase

Staff writer, with CNA, WASHINGTON

Taiwan’s business community is facing a sink-or-swim situation and must seek inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement for survival, Formosa Plastics Group (台塑集團) vice chairwoman Susan Wang (王瑞華) said on Saturday.

Wang, who was part of a delegation to the US led by former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), said Taiwan, which sells half of its industrial products abroad, was facing fierce competition in international markets from Japan, South Korea and China.

Most of Taiwan’s exports face tariffs of between 5 and 6 percent before they can enter other markets, which takes a toll on Taiwan businesses, blunting their competitive edge in international markets, Wang said.

South Korean exports to the EU and the US grew significantly after Seoul concluded a free-trade agreement with them, Wang said, adding that Taiwan’s exports to the two markets are not only stagnant, but shrinking.

When Siew asked her to join his delegation to lobby Washington for Taiwan’s access to the TPP, she readily agreed to participate, she said.

She said she felt obliged to help Siew with his mission because while he served as economics minister from 1990 to 1993, Siew helped the Formosa Plastics Group build its naphtha cracking plant in Mailiao (麥寮), Yunlin County.

Meanwhile, Chan Chi-hsien (詹啟賢) — chairman of Taiwan’s only human vaccine manufacturer, Adimmune Corp (國光生技) — and another business leader on Siew’s delegation said that apart from Siew, there were hardly any public figures who could organize a delegation consisting of so many business leaders and contact so many US political leaders for such a trip.

Chan said Taiwan’s biotechnology industry does not have much contact with the US, so the trip provided Taiwanese businesspeople with a valuable opportunity to develop partnerships with their US counterparts and cement a place in the international biotech industry.

Siew and his delegation of 16 Taiwanese business leaders arrived in New York on Nov. 16 for a 12-day visit, in the hope of winning US support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the TPP agreement.

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