Sat, Oct 05, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Japanese businesses call for enhanced ties

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taipei yesterday called on the government to enhance bilateral trade ties by joining regional trade blocs and removing a lingering ban on Japanese food imports.

The trade group made the plea as it presented its 11th annual position paper to National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶).

Taiwan should actively seek membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, as its member economies account for 13.4 percent of global GDP, making it the third-largest free-trade area after the North American Free Trade Agreement and the European Single Market, the paper said.

Taiwan should also pursue an economic partnership agreement or free-trade agreement with Japan, allowing Taiwanese firms to boost their competitiveness on the world stage, it said.

Japanese corporations consider Taiwan a strategically important base in Asia and authorities should seek to consolidate the nation’s position in the region, it said.

Japan is Taiwan’s third-largest trading partner, with direct investment by Japanese companies growing more than twofold from 2017 to last year, government data showed.

Most Japanese firms in Taiwan engage in selling goods and services to the local market.

The paper urged Taiwan to deal with imports of Japanese food in a rational and scientific manner, as Taiwan has kept a ban on products from five Japanese prefectures — Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba — since the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011.

The group expressed deep regret that a referendum held in November last year lent support to the ban, even though not a single food item from Japan has failed to meet safety tests.

A report commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration confirmed that food imports from areas near the Japanese nuclear power plant carry “negligible” radiation risk to human health.

The disaster struck eight years ago and uneasy emotions should have settled, allowing science and reason to guide policymaking, the paper said.

The chamber also voiced concern that government efficiency would slow in the buildup to the presidential and legislative elections in January, as the presidential campaign heats up and draws all public attention.

“We hope there will not be any delay or stagnation in government operations or regulatory reviews,” the paper said.

The group also urged the government to make known details on how it would guarantee stable electricity supply after phasing out nuclear power plants, so that private-sector companies can draw up investment and response plans.

Japanese companies have experience in dealing with alternative energy deployment and could help, it said.

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