Taiwan should sign free-trade agreements (FTA) with more countries to enhance its investment competitiveness, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry said in Taipei (JCCI) yesterday.
“Taiwan tends to rely highly on China,” JCCI chairman Kyota Kishimoto said after a press conference to present an annual position paper to the Council for Economic -Planning and Development (CEPD).
According to government statistics, over the first five months of this year China accounted for 37.3 percent of Taiwan’s total foreign trade and 83.3 percent of total outward investment. Being conscious of the investment risks in China, Japan has reached out to ASEAN members and Taiwan needs to follow suit, he said.
In light of South Korea signing an FTA with the US, Taiwan “should catch up, or it will be at a disadvantage,” the chairman said.
Asked which country should be on an FTA priority list, Kishimoto said Japan should be first and then ASEAN members, adding that Japan was very willing to sign such a pact with Taiwan.
The JCCI also touted the importance of signing a tax agreement between Taiwan and Japan, pointing out that such an agreement could help avoid double taxation and would benefit both sides. In response, CEPD Minister Christina Liu (劉憶如) said the government would continue to remove investment obstacles and loosen related regulations to build a better business environment.
“We will do our best to work toward this direction,” she said. “As to those repeated suggestions that we have not yet dealt with, please be patient and bear with us. We will remove the obstacles as soon as possible.”
In addition, Liu said Taiwan could become Japan’s best business partner as “Taiwan has close relations with China and knows it well.”
By combining Japan’s know-how, Taiwan’s experience and China’s market, the three parties can reach a “win-win-win” situation, she added.
Kishimoto also extended his gratitude in this year’s position paper for Taiwan’s prompt and generous aid package to his country after a powerful earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11.