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

Smartphone chip designer MediaTek Inc (聯發科) in December last year invited 42 executives and senior engineers from Indian smartphone vendors, including Micromax Informatics Ltd, to participate in a six-week handset hardware design development program hosted by the company in Taiwan.

Deng said MediaTek’s program helped the Indian government to meet its rising demand for smartphone hardware and system design talent.

It also benefited the Taiwanese firm’s image in the Indian market, he said.

The government encourages more firms to initiate similar programs in Taiwan, ASEAN or South Asia, as it would bolster their presence, he added.

Deng said one of the focuses of the “new southbound policy” is to share Taiwan’s resources from a wide range of fields — including agricultural technology, and healthcare and tourism resources — with partner nations.

Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Show Chwan Memorial Hospital, E-da Hospital and three other domestic hospitals in September last year established medical referral platforms in Indonesia, Deng said.

He said that for domestic hospitals willing to dispatch personnel to conduct medical training for healthcare workers in Southeast Asia or open training programs in Taiwan, the Ministry of Health and Welfare would increase the hospitals’ points in the government’s annual rating system.

The government aims to attract more students from ASEAN and South Asia by enlarging the scale of scholarships in an effort to build a strong network, and increase mutual understanding about cultural issues and academic exchanges, Deng said.

The Ministry of Education’s statistics showed that the number of students from the 18 countries was 31,531 last year, an increase of nearly 10 percent from 28,741 in the 2015 academic year.

“Our goal is to grow the number to 58,000 by the 2019 academic year,” Deng said.

He said the number of tourists has increased significantly after the government launched the “new southbound policy” a year ago.

More than 1.63 million tourists from the 18 nations visited Taiwan from June last year to March, jumping 22.61 percent from the same period a year earlier, he said, citing official statistics.

As part of an effort to reach the goal of 2.2 million tourists by 2019, the government waived visas from Thailand and Brunei last year, and is to offer the Philippines visa-free travel from September, Deng said, adding that local governments have also been helping restaurants to obtain halal certification to attract Muslim tourists.

Ministry of Finance data showed that combined exports to the 18 partner nations rose 7.52 percent annually to US$57 million from May last year to March, while imports from them increased 16.47 percent year-on-year to US$36.87 million in the same period.

Deng said the government has a bank guarantee facility with NT$50 billion (US$1.66 billion) in funding aimed at helping small and medium-sized enterprises invest in ASEAN and South Asia, with the goal of helping smaller firms enter the markets.

“The policy has started to bear fruit after nearly one year of effort from the government and private sector,” Deng said.

The first year of a new policy is always the most difficult one, he said.

The government had to build an efficient cross-ministry platform involving hundreds of officials, as well as explain the core values and goals of the “new southbound policy” to the public, he said.

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