Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and innovation — not large corporations and capitalists — are what should drive Taiwan’s next-generation economy, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in an interview published online yesterday, warning that the nation’s economic development can not afford to favor the rich and the powerful anymore.
In an interview with the Chinese-language Common Wealth magazine that touched upon the issues of the proposed free economic pilot zones and free trade, Tsai highlighted the urgency for Taiwan to develop a new economic model for prosperity and President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration’s fallacious economic policy scheme.
“The primary force that drives the next-generation economy would be SMEs rather than large businesses; innovationists rather than capitalists. Knowledge and innovation will be far more important than capitals, and Taiwan’s economic development should not favor only the rich and capitalists anymore,” she said.
The nation’s economy depends highly on exports and should be transformed into one where global outreach and domestic consumption are balanced, she said, adding that the most important aspect of the government policy would be job creation.
Innovation, employment and a fair distribution of wealth will be the three dimensions the next administration must address, she added.
Asked about some people’s image of the DPP as anti-commercialist and anti-free trade, Tsai said that the party is not against free trade and liberal economy, but opposes the Ma administration’s attempt to define it with oversimplified logic, such as painting the DPP as isolationists and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) as a party that embraces liberalization.
For example, the DPP is not opposed to the free economic pilot zones project, but believes that it should not create set of unequal rules inside and outside of the zones, she said, adding that the government should not go too far in implementing deregulation because it would lead to chaotic management.
While the DPP agrees that the project might be workable, Tsai said her party favored the project in only a handful of regions and the opening of specific sectors, adding that the DPP hoped to revamp the entire plan.
Ma and the KMT’s rationale in the project is fairly simple: It assumes that more liberalization brings more prosperity, she said.
However, it will take comprehensive reform to help the nation restart the stagnated economy with reform on education and industrial upgrades, Tsai said.
Asked about the level of support for the pilot zones project among two DPP mayors, Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德), Tsai said that Chen only supports a pilot zone in Greater Kaohsiung for the financial sector.
Tsai said Lai questioned the project and said that the free-trade zone for Greater Tainan’s Port of Anping (安平) was good enough and the pilot zones were not necessary.