President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said his government was fully determined to join the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) within the next decade, adding that only by improving cross-strait ties can Taiwan facilitate economic cooperation with other countries.
Joining the TPP in the next 10 years and signing trade deals with other countries will create a better economic environment and increase Taiwan’s international competitiveness, Ma said.
“I cannot imagine what Taiwan will face in the world economy if we don’t join the TPP in the next decade ... We cannot stop or move backwards in opening up Taiwan’s markets, otherwise the nation will suffer economically,” he said.
The president made the comments at a meeting with representatives from six major industry and business associations.
During the two-hour meeting, Ma and his running mate, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), discussed economic policies with the representatives and sought their support ahead of the Jan. 14 presidential election.
The group has also invited Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her running mate, Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), to discuss economic issues today.
In promising to create a better environment for business groups through policies and regulations, the president promoted the government’s cross-strait policies — from direct flights to the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) — as the best way to open up more opportunities for Taiwan economically, and said he was more capable of reviving the nation’s economy than the previous DPP administration.
“Four years ago when we took office, Taiwan suffered from domestic corruption and a closed-door international policy,” he said.
“We managed to post an economic growth rate of 10.88 percent last year despite the global financial crisis, and I think we are doing a better job in reviving the economy than the DPP,” he said.
Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI, 全國工業總會) chairman Preston Chen (陳武雄) and other representatives expressed concern about the government’s decision to reject Kuokuang Petrochemical’s (國光石化) plan to build a naphtha cracker in Changhua County and have it built overseas instead because of environmental concerns.
They urged the government to try to seek a balance between economic development and environmental protection. They also called on the government to seek more talent for industries and to continue cross-strait negotiations following the signing of the ECFA.
In response, Ma defended the government’s move to prioritize environmental protection in its decisionmaking process, while promising that his administration would focus on promoting innovation--oriented business models and seek local and foreign talent to raise the nation’s competitiveness.