Tue, Oct 21, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Self-pity obstructs recovery

Taiwan's economy is recovering. News came out on the first day of the 2003 Taiwan Business Alliance Conference that foreign and domestic companies have decided to invest NT$138.39 billion in 186 projects here, exceeding the Ministry of Economic Affairs' original target of NT$110 billion. This better-than-expected result has made government officials happier than ever.

The success of the conference shows that international businesses are still positive about Taiwan's investment environment as well as its economic outlook. This, despite the fact that the economic performance of and investment input in Taiwan have slumped over the last three years due to the global economic downturn and political instability. Taiwan should get out of self-pity mode and more confidently promote itself across the international


Over the last few years, China has copied Taiwan's successful business model and created a magnetic effect, drawing foreign investment into its market on the strength of its cheap labor, enormous size and investment incentives. Taiwan's success in attracting investment this time has again eroded the myth of the Chinese market.

Tempting as it is, China's market is only one part of the global market. As long as Taiwan maintains its competitive edge in technological innovation, marketing and a suitable investment environment, the future of investment in Taiwan remains bright. Many media commentators and China-based Taiwanese businesspeople contend that Taiwan's economy would wither if the country did not open up direct links with China. This belief is spurious. Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore have enjoyed direct links with China for a long time, yet their economies have still performed poorly over the last couple of years. Their recovery was made even more difficult because China has drained capital and technology from them.

International trade holds the key to Taiwan's economic future. In order to maintain the country's competitiveness, the investment environment must be improved by eradicating trade barriers to the free movement of capital, people and goods and to enable businesses to deploy globally.

In spite of a consensus on improving the country's economy, the ruling and opposition parties have devoted most of their efforts to unnecessary political gain. In the best interests of Taiwan's economy, they should put aside their differences, resist electoral intrigue and make an all-out effort to formulate strategies that maximize Taiwan's competitiveness and business development.

As a member of the global economy, Taiwan must abide by international trade regulations. The biggest complaint from foreign companies is Taiwan's violations of intellectual property rights (IPR). Certainly, we do not have to accept all the rules, given the existing disputes over some Internet technologies. The government, however, must demonstrate its commitment to cracking down on piracy to ease the concerns of foreign investors about IPR violations.

The decision by foreign firms to invest in Taiwan indicates confidence in the country's economy. Climbing out of economic recession, Taiwan has to work even harder to remove investment obstacles and create another economic miracle. After all, such good opportunities do not come around very often.

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