Tue, Jul 29, 2014 - Page 14 News List

Trade conference veers off course

Staff writer, with agencies

A three-day national economic conference held to plan strategies to embrace globalization and avoid regional marginalization closed yesterday in Taipei, with participants spelling out their opinions on a variety of issues yet failing to reach any concrete conclusions.

Government officials said that they had compiled 40 “common opinions” from participants at the conference, which would lay the groundwork for the nation’s future economic policies.

The conference was supposed to feature two main topics — the development of strategies during the era of globalization, and promoting closer economic and trade ties across the Taiwan Strait.

However, over the past three days, issues brought up by participants were as diverse as suggestions on how the government could help small and medium-size enterprises, support minority and disadvantaged social groups amid market liberalization and actively pursue free-trade agreements, appeals for measures to support business startups and assist agricultural product processing.

Participants also gave their opinions about the government’s proposed free economic pilot zones and a mechanism to effectively supervise the government’s cross-strait negotiations. Some critics have said the opinions covered too broad a range of topics.

Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said after the conference had finished that the government’s future economic policies would follow “common opinions” to boost national competitiveness, while taking into account the value of social justice and fairness.

National Development Council Minister Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) said the council would release an annual risk report on cross-strait development and establish a monitoring system for China’s political and trade influence in the nation, in a bid to ease public concern about closer ties.

Kuan said he believed the conference had facilitated communications between the government and the public, because he found many young people were willing to share their views either at the conference or through the Internet.

However, several young people and civic groups yesterday staged protests inside and outside the conference venue — the Taipei International Convention Center — saying that the event was nothing more than a show of political leverage put on by the Cabinet and the government had failed to listen to the true voice of the public.

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