Sun, Jun 27, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Senior executives encouraged to fight economic isolation

CNA , TAICHUNG

Taiwan must make every possible effort to join major international trade organizations and alliances lest it be marginalized amid the trend in economic globalization, the nation's top economic planner said yesterday.

Addressing a meeting of senior business executives in Taichung, Council for Economic Planning and Development Chairman Hu Sheng-cheng (胡勝正) said the world's most powerful countries are forming strategic economic alliances.

But because of China's diplomatic embargo, Hu said, Taiwan has had a tough time trying to join these international groups.

"We must use wisdom and creativity to achieve a breakthrough. Otherwise, our economy will be marginalized," he said.

Hu said that signing bilateral free trade agreements (FTA) could be an alternative for Taiwan in forging strategic economic alliances with other countries.

To date Taiwan has signed only one FTA -- with diplomatic ally Panama. For fear of offending Beijing, Hu said, many countries that maintain formal diplomatic ties with China have been reluctant to sign FTAs with Taiwan.

Against this backdrop, the US could play a crucial role in the nation's FTA drive, Hu said. If Taiwan signed an FTA with the US, other leading economies would be more willing to negotiate similar agreements with Taiwan, he said.

Hu said the government would continue to work hard to convince Washington to sign a FTA with Taipei.

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