Sat, May 20, 2017 - Page 4 News List

New Southbound Policy: Tsai’s first year in office marked by focus to south

POLICY IN PRACTICE:A businessman has opened a training center in Indonesia, boosting the skills of the local workforce and putting Taiwanese products to use

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Minister Without Portfolio John Deng on Nov. 25 last year addresses a business forum in Taipei about the “new southbound policy.”

Photo: CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) marks the first anniversary of her presidency today. In many early initiatives by the government, Tsai has been putting resources into executing the “new southbound policy” in an attempt to broaden the nation’s economic, trade, and cultural ties with South and Southeast Asian nations to pave the way for Taiwan’s long-term economic growth.

“The Southeast Asian countries and India are expanding rapidly in economy. This is an opportunity that Taiwan cannot miss to grow in tandem with them and secure a position in Asia,” Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) told the Taipei Times in an interview in Taipei on Tuesday.

The policy, which runs according to the motto “people orientated,” seeks collaboration with 18 nations under the principles of reciprocity and equality.

It covers 10 Southeast Asian nations, six in South Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand. The nations receiving top priority are Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and India for the early stage of the policy.

Deng, who is head of the Office of Trade Negotiations, said some people might compare the “new southbound policy” to China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, as the geographic scope of the Chinese policy in ASEAN, including Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, overlaps with Taiwan’s.

However, in terms of collaboration on projects in ASEAN, China focuses on building large facilities, while Taiwan provides value-added, total solutions to improve existing infrastructure, such as introducing electronic toll collection systems, Deng said.

“The market segments that Taiwan and China target are different. There is no conflict of interests,” Deng said.

Deng said the core value of the “new southbound policy” is not only to forge solid trade relationships, but also to increase engagement with the governments, institutions and people.

“We do not just view the countries as markets for us to do business there. We care about what we could provide to benefit the partnered countries and people there in the long term,” he said.

With a focus on people, Tsai’s government aims to deepen bilateral exchanges and cultivation of students, academics and industry professionals through the efforts of the government and the private sector.

For instance, a Taiwanese businessman, surnamed Kao (高), has founded a technical vocation center, PT Formosa Teknologi Sentral, in Indonesia to provide training programs for high-school-equivalent graduates or factory workers, Deng said.

The center is offering courses on subjects such as computer numeric control, human-machine interface control and programmable logic control, all of which use Taiwanese machines and materials, the Office of Trade and Negotiations said.

The first batch of students recently graduated from the program and the second batch of students are to begin their training, Deng said.

Such investment in training is reciprocal; not only can it improve the the standard of the Indonesian workforce and enhance the operational efficiency of overseas Taiwanese enterprises, but also increase exports of machinery tools and software, Deng said.

“It is a necessary approach to train local technicians and management talent, as Taiwanese enterprises do not have sufficient personnel to be stationed in overseas markets, partly due to our aging society and industry structure,” he said.

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