President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said that Taiwan will play three important roles in Asia: as a free-trade practitioner, as a contributor to regional trade networks and as a propeller of the region’s prosperity.
Taiwan has been an important driver of economic growth in Asia, with most of the country’s US$220 billion overseas investments between 1952 and 2012 having been made in the region, Ma said, citing a UN World Investment Report.
Taiwan’s economic development is closely linked to that of other Asian countries, Ma said at an economic forum in Taipei organized by the Chinese-language CommonWealth Magazine.
The most rapid regional economic integration in the world is occurring in the Asia-Pacific region, with many countries pushing for reform of economic structures, Ma said.
The first round of negotiations to establish the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is set to finish by the end of this year, he said.
With its central location in East Asia, Taiwan allows easy access to major Asian cities, he said.
If Taiwan can join the TPP and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP), it will contribute to a balanced trade network in Asia, he said.
“Taiwan will not be absent and cannot be marginalized,” from the wave of regional integration, Ma said.
The TPP negotiating countries account for 36 percent of Taiwan’s trade, while the RECP countries account for 57 percent, he said.
“They have an impact on us and we have an influence on them too,” he said.
As part of the government’s effort to promote trade liberalization, it is pushing for free economic pilot zones to create a better investment environment, he said.
The pilot zones will be extended to other areas of the nation with the ultimate goal of creating a free economic country, he said.
The US is leading TPP negotiations, while China is the main proponent of the RECP bloc.