Taiwan saw its overall trade competitiveness fall out of the top 10 of 54 global major and emerging economies, pointing out the importance and urgency of passing the cross-strait service trade agreement, the sixth annual survey by the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei (IEAT, 台北市進出口公會) showed yesterday.
The survey evaluates the trade environment of major global economies in terms of trade freedom, convenience, ease and lack of risk.
The latest survey showed Taiwan was the 12th-most competitive market this year, down from ninth place last year, and behind some of its major trade rivals.
Singapore and Hong Kong placed first and fourth in this year’s survey, while South Korea took the ninth place, the first time its ranking has surpassed Taiwan’s.
“Compared with its peers, the progress for Taiwan to sign free-trade agreements [FTAs] has moved slowly, impeding the nation’s trade freedom and resulting in a negative impact on exports,” Leu Horng-der (呂鴻德), a business administration professor at Chung Yuan Christian University who led the research team on behalf of the IEAT, told a media briefing.
To accelerate the pace of regional economic integration, Leu said the government should pass the cross-strait service trade agreement as soon as possible as a basis to sign more FTAs with other countries.
Industrial upgrades would be the other important thing for Taiwan to do to raise its trade competitiveness, which should proceed in parallel with the signing of FTAs, Leu added.
Taiwan saw ranking drop in three sectors — trade freedom, convenience and lack of risk — while it placed seventh in ease of trade, the association said in its annual report.
The report showed Canada, Singapore and Germany were the top three most competitive places to conduct foreign trade, while Thailand, Indonesia and the Czech Republic posted the strongest improvements in their trade environments among the surveyed economies.
Most Taiwanese companies think China has the most trading potential, followed by India and Indonesia, the report said, adding that most firms believe the government should pursue trade agreements with the US, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and India because of their importance as trading partners.
Notably, more local companies saw China as a major trade competitor, an indication that strong industrial development in China means it is no longer at the back end of the supply chain.
China placed 29th overall in the survey.