Sun, Aug 12, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Forum plans strategies to boost trade

RADICAL RETHINK:The business brainstorming event heard from different sectors concerned how to lift the country from the economic doldrums

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Premier Sean Chen, right, talks with Chinese National Federation of Industries chairman Rock Hsu prior to the first of a series of five “solution-oriented” symposiums to discuss the country’s international trade situation in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

Government officials and business leaders yesterday got together to brainstorm strategies on how the two sectors can operate together to boost the country’s economic interaction and connectivity with the global economy.

The Executive Yuan yesterday held the first of a series of five “solution-oriented” symposiums to discuss strategies for 52 issues with regard to the country’s international trade situation.

The three-and-a-half-hour closed-door meeting, presided over by Premier Sean Chen (陳冲), was attended by 26 Cabinet officials from various departments and agencies as well as 25 representatives from business associations and trade groups and enterprises.

In his opening remarks, Chen urged the nation and the people to have “fresh economic thinking” and to embrace policies that can make the country “more adaptive to international economic and trading systems.”

Drawing on a recent speech by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that called for “fresh economic thinking,” Chen said “even North Korea now considers ‘fresh economic thinking’ a necessity. We need it badly.”

Discussions at yesterday’s meeting focused on three main themes encompassing the 52 issues — how to integrate the nation into regional economic blocs, how to enhance international industrial cooperation and attract foreign business investment to Taiwan, and how to boost national exports.

The meeting concluded with Chen agreeing to lead the Cabinet-level International Economic and Trade Strategic Alliance Arrangement Taskforce, a mechanism set up in 2004 and led by vice premier.

Chen said the change could lead to better coordination between government agencies as it requires “inter-agency efforts” to push through policies to cope with the problems adapting to trade liberalization.

A taskforce led by the premier would require Cabinet officials, rather than deputy Cabinet officials, to partake in its meetings Chen said following the meeting.

Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said the ministry would work out the details regarding the naming of the taskforce, its set-up and its missions within 10 days, in order to meet the expectations of business leaders who initially suggested that Chen form a new taskforce to lead the nation’s free-trade agreement (FTA) initiatives.

Chinese National Federation of Industries chairman Rock Hsu (許勝雄) and General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China chairman Lawrence Chang (張平沼), promised to allocate business resources to help the cause.

The business community is to form an “advisory group” to work together with public sector.

“We cannot afford to leave Taiwan marginalized by international economic integration,” Hsu said.

Among the business leaders attending the meeting there was no representation from the agricultural industry — a sector often vulnerable to the impact of trade liberalization.

During the discussion, business representatives raised concerns about whether the agricultural sector is willing to liberalize agricultural trade, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) said.

However, the two major problems facing the country’s agriculture are that it has to adjust the way agricultural resources are used and improve efficiency, he said.

“No matter if we move towards trade liberalization in agriculture or not, the two problems need to be resolved,” Chen said.

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