President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that although China remains Taiwan’s largest trading partner, his administration has not devoted all of its efforts to China and is rebalancing the country’s foreign trade.
Some have “misunderstood” that Taiwan only does business with China or only invests there, but looking at the record of the past four years, “we have embarked on a rebalancing effort,” Ma told a visiting delegation from the Taiwan Studies Workshop under Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for China Studies.
The government “will not put all its eggs in the mainland basket,” Ma said.
Two trends underline the government’s commitment to preserving the diversification of the country’s trade, Ma said. The first is that Taiwan’s exports to China accounted for about 40 percent of total exports last year, about the same as for the past five years.
“The ratio is rather high, but more importantly, the ratio has not increased since I first assumed office in 2008,” he said.
The ratio has remained steady despite increasing trade with China, meaning that Taiwan’s trade with other areas, especially with ASEAN members, has increased dramatically, he said.
The other telling trend, according to the president, is that the share of export orders received in Taiwan and produced abroad has only risen from 46 percent when he took office in May 2008 to just over 50 percent last year.
Still, Taiwan has boosted economic ties with China, Ma said, the latest developments being an investment protection agreement signed in August last year and the completion of a currency settlement agreement later in the year.
Follow-up talks under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement signed in 2010 have also made progress, but more time is needed to complete negotiations on trade in services and goods, which Ma said is more important than economic cooperation pacts with Singapore and New Zealand because they cover more items.
Meanwhile, the main global political issue involving Taiwan over the past year has been the ongoing dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in the East China Sea.
Ma reaffirmed the government’s stance that the Diaoyutais are the inherent territory of the Republic of China.