AmCham warns of over-reliance on trade with China

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff Reporter

Thu, Jun 09, 2011 - Page 1

Taiwan should adopt a balanced development strategy and avoid overly relying on a single market to drive its export-oriented economy on the world stage, the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taipei said yesterday.

“Taiwan should pursue greater balance by consolidating its economic connections with such other major markets as Europe, Japan, Southeast Asia and especially the United States, the world’s biggest economy,” AmCham chairman Bill Wiseman told a media briefing on the release of the organization’s annual white paper.

Wiseman’s warning came a few hours before the release of Taiwan’s latest trade data, which showed China accounting for 40.2 percent of exports last month, while the US took only 12.3 percent.

“Over-reliance on one market is always risky,” Wiseman said. “Taiwan should not turn away growth when it can get it, but it needs to lock in the future. It needs to go and start broadening its economic relationships beyond focusing so much on China.”

Taiwan is almost doubly dependent on China, which drove 47 percent of the country’s economic growth last year, sharply higher than the 25 percent average with the G20 nations, he said.

With South Korea about to enter into free-trade agreements with the US and the EU, Taiwan should step up its efforts to avoid losing its competitive edge to its main trade rival, Wiseman said.

The paper, however, recognized the value of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement that Taiwan and China signed in June last year and it encouraged the Taiwanese government to deepen cross-strait cooperation in sectors such as finance, chemicals, real estate, retail, telecoms, transport and medical devices.

AmCham, the largest foreign trade group in Taiwan, with more than 900 members representing about 500 companies, will take its latest position paper to Washington next month when its members meet with US lawmakers.

The organization suggested that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) — both of whom are running for the presidency next year — use the paper as a reference when formulating policies to assure Taiwan’s long-term economic gains.

Taiwan continues to face difficult challenges for its future economic development, despite its improvement in rankings in global competitiveness surveys, AmCham said.

The paper called for enhanced government efficiency, transparency and consistency — including greater attention to long-range planning instead of mainly reacting to short-term challenges.

The organization found that of the 114 issues and sub-issues raised last year, only 14, or 12.3 percent, were resolved or showed satisfactory progress — the lowest in its history of tracking issues seven years ago.

The chamber also encouraged Washington to pay increased attention to strengthening economic ties with Taiwan as the country is its ninth-largest trading partner.

“If the current dispute over beef prevents the holding of trade talks, other channels should be found to work on the important trade issues between the two sides,” Wiseman said.