Wed, Jan 27, 2016 - Page 3 News List

New president faces big economic issues: expert

TPP CHALLENGE:National Central University’s Chiou Jiunn-rong said that regional economic integration may help some industries, but others could be harmed

By Wang Meng-lun  /  Staff reporter

An academic said the next president would face four major economic difficulties: “adjustments to the industrial structure”; “regional economic integration”; “development of domestic demand”; and “real-wage increases,” while another academic said there will also be a four-month window between the presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 16 and May 20, when the new government is to be installed, so the new legislature must strictly monitor President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration in case it does something to damage the economy.

Many indicators have shown poor economic performance since the second quarter last year, National Central University professor of economics Chiou Jiunn-rong (邱俊榮) said, adding that the economy is in bad shape, so president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will certainly face major challenges after taking office.

“The first challenge is adjustments to the industrial structure,” he said. “Taiwan’s industrial structure used to be too focused on the electronics industry and lacked diversity, so once a global recession occurred, it greatly affected the nation’s economy.”

By comparison, South Korea’s industrial structure is more diverse, Chiou said, adding that Tsai’s government must develop and foster emerging industries to diversify the economy.

As that would involve the reallocation of resources, the new government must undertake comprehensive planning and communication, he said.

Regarding regional economic integration, Chiou said that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement might be beneficial for some industries, but other industries could be negatively affected, so making appropriate arrangements to enter the TPP would be a big challenge.

The development of domestic demand will be the third challenge, because the government has always emphasized developing the export-oriented manufacturing industry to more effectively stimulate GDP growth, but has neglected the development of domestic demand, especially refined agriculture and long-term care — industries that could greatly boost domestic consumption, Chiou said.

The fourth challenge is how to see real wages increase, because over the past eight years of the Ma administration, real wages have dropped to the same level as 15 years ago, while the low average wage has already aroused discontent among the people, Chiou said, adding that popular discontent has affected the public’s willingness to consume, which has also harmed economic growth.

Chiou said that although overseas production orders have continued to grow, increasing the nation’s GDP, such activity does not increase real wages in Taiwan, so the new president must facilitate an industrial upgrade to solve the problem of stagnant wages.

National Taipei University professor of economics Wang To-far (王塗發) said the new legislature is to assemble on Monday next week, but the new administration is to take office on May 20, so he is worried that the Ma administration might do something that harms the economy between those two dates.

For example, if the Ma administration allows Chinese companies to merge with or take over firms in the nation’s integrated-circuit design industry, it would threaten the survival of Taiwan’s factories, Wang said, adding now that the Democratic Progressive Party has obtained a majority in the legislature, it must monitor the Ma administration during the transition window.

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