Fri, Oct 13, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Yushan Forum: Cooperation key to better future

‘HELP EACH OTHER’:Former Philippine vice president Teofisto Guingona highlighted the benefits of Taiwan and the Philippines working together for both nations

Staff writer, with CNA

Former Philippine vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr speaks at the Yushan Forum at the Grand Hyatt Taipei on Wednesday.

Photo: CNA

Former Philippine vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr on Wednesday said in a keynote speech at the Yushan Forum that Taiwan and the Philippines should work together for a better future and promote technology development and economic growth.

In the speech, titled “Let’s Help Each Other,” Guingona called for Taiwanese companies to do their manufacturing in the Philippines and provide technical know-how, and for Taiwan to take advantage of the Philippines’ agricultural products and tourism resources.

The Philippines could serve as a gateway to Asia for Taiwan, because it benefits from preferential tariff systems from the EU and the US, making the country’s exports more competitive in those markets, Guingona said.

That means that Taiwanese companies manufacturing there can get duty exemptions on exports of about 5,000 products to the US and 6,274 products to the EU for up to 10 years, said Guingona, who served as vice president from 2001 to 2004.

Businesses that would benefit would be makers of footwear, headwear, umbrellas, electrical appliances, bicycles and canned tuna or processed pineapple, he said.

For instance, Taiwanese bicycle brands producing their goods in the Philippines would benefit from lower import duties when exporting to the US and Europe, Guingona said.

He also appealed for help from Taiwan in technology, research and development, design, product development, precision machinery and tool and dye making.

In agriculture, he said the Philippines is blessed with products such as coconuts, whose virtues he extolled, as its husk is a source of natural fibers and its meat is a source of coconut oil and desiccated coconut.

“We humbly offer this product to Taiwan, not only here, but also in the Philippines,” Guingona said.

He also touted two tourism destinations as possible areas of investment for Taiwanese interests — Mount Data in central Luzon and Lake Lanao on Mindanao.

Throughout his speech, Guingona described the people of Taiwan and the Philippines as brothers and sisters and close neighbors, saying that the two should “build the economic and social life for a better world, for continued happiness.”

Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) told the forum that the Philippines is likely to be the first of six Southeast Asian countries to renew a bilateral investment guarantee agreement with Taiwan, as the negotiations are on track to be completed by December.

Similar agreements with Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia are expected to be renewed under the government’s New Southbound Policy to achieve enhanced cooperation, but the pace of negotiations is slower than with the Philippines, Wang said.

Taiwan signed the agreements with the six countries in the 1990s, but is seeking to renew them to forge closer business ties and better protect Taiwanese investments in those countries.

Given the Philippines’ proactive approach to trade and investment cooperation with Taiwan, Wang said she was optimistic about completing the talks by December.

The New Southbound Policy aims to not only establish and upgrade free-trade agreements with the target countries, but also to build exchanges and substantive partnerships with them in the areas of agriculture, healthcare and the cultivation of talent, Wang said.

The policy is aimed at enhancing Taiwan’s relations with countries in South and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

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