Pilot zones part of liberalization that must occur: premier

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Dec 30, 2013 - Page 3

Starting a free economic pilot zone is a step toward better global integration and a better future for Taiwan, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said in an interview with ERA News that was broadcast yesterday.

Jiang said the establishment of the pilot zones was part of the nation’s efforts to prepare for the next 10 to 20 years.

“While hoping that other countries will open their markets to us, we have to be open to other markets. However open they are around the world, we need to be equally open,” Jiang said.

Describing the draft act on the free economic pilot zones, which was passed by the Cabinet last week, as a step that will improve the economy, Jiang said Taiwan could not forever depend on trade barriers and other protective measures to insulate industry and jobs against international competition.

Jiang also said the current economic slump is not a problem appearing this year only, but is the result of the nation failing to keep up with global market liberalization.

With business and orders being lost to other countries, the pressure will increase on local companies to move their operations overseas, winding down the number of jobs in Taiwan and wringing out the little growth in salaries in the long run, he added.

In contrast, liberalizing Taiwan’s market will help industries, including those where the nation still holds a competitive advantage — education, and financial and medical services — to grow more competitive, the premier said.

Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) echoed the premier’s position yesterday at a Hsinchu County-based event organized by the Ching Shi Association, a civic group of military reservists.

Since the nation’s economy relies on exports, Taiwan will be isolated if it does not join any regional trade pacts, Wu said.

At a time when the country is facing economic strife, Taiwanese need to become more open-minded and work together, he said.

The first phase of the free economic pilot zone project was launched in August, covering the country’s six major seaports, the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and the Pingtung Agricultural Biotechnology Park.

The draft act governing such zones, which involves deregulation for businesses, is set to be sent to the legislature by the end of the year.