Tue, Feb 18, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet pushes free-trade port status for Kaohsiung

CNA , KAOHSIUNG

Vice Premier Lin Hsin-i (林信義) said yesterday that next month the Executive Yuan will submit a proposal to develop Kaohsiung Port into an international free- trade port to the Legislative Yuan.

Stressing that the government will continue to push for balanced development between the north and south of the country, Lin said the Kaohsiung free trade port plan is an established government policy and that he expects the plan to be approved by the legislature in June.

He said that a budget for the plan will be drawn up as soon as possible.

The plan was first put forward by the Kaohsiung City Government to the Council for Economic Planning and Development. The council allocated NT$82.2 billion (about US$2.35 billion) for the project last July.

Within a free-trade port area, foreign imports can be stored or processed before being reshipped to a third country or area, while businesses based there enjoy a variety of tax incentives.

According to the vice premier, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications is also assessing a "two-port" plan it will present to the council for a final settlement.

Under the plan, the government will link Kaohsiung Port with Taipei Port to forge an air-sea traffic network.

As for the direct-links issue, Lin said the government will move gradually toward the goal in line with its basic stance -- sea links and cargo traffic ahead of air links and passenger travel.

Lin added that the links issue is still being assessed by the Mainland Affairs Council.

However, he said that Kaohsiung Port will benefit greatly from direct links.

He added the government has also worked out various economic stimuli plans.

On Sunday Lin said that the difficult days are numbered for the people, as the government will release various pump-priming and reform packages to improve the economy so that it keeps pace with the global economic recovery.

He also said the economy has already bottomed out and is now rising, despite some remaining risks such as war between the US and Iraq.

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