Industrial heavyweights yesterday urged the incoming government to maintain cross-strait rapprochement and facilitate a review of the service trade agreement with China to help boost the competitiveness of Taiwanese exports.
“All eyes will be on president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) during her inauguration speech on May 20, and she needs political prowess and delicacy when setting the tone for her leadership in the next four years without estranging Beijing,” Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (CNAIC, 工商協進會) chairman Lin Por-fong (林伯豐) said.
Lin, also chairman of Taiwan Glass Industry Corp (台灣玻璃), said at a business gathering in Taipei that extending the “status quo,” as Tsai has said at public engagements, is both vague and inadequate.
Cross-strait harmony is crucial to Taiwan’s economy as many firms have moved operations to China, the destination for 40 percent of outbound shipments, Lin said.
Trade terms means profits or losses for contract manufacturers, especially those with thin profit margins of between 3 percent and 5 percent, that cannot remain competitive if rivals enjoy more favorable tariff rates, Lin said.
The service trade pact is important and so is the planned entry to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic the Partnership (RCEP), Lin said, adding that all efforts need support from China.
Lin also voiced concerns over reckless tax hikes after Tsai elected former minister of finance Lin Chuan (林全) as premier and pledged to push for reform.
Dubbed a tax-hike minister, Lin Chuan in 2012 proposed raising stock transaction taxes by 0.1 percent to help distribute the nation’s wealth in a more equitable fashion.
“Tax hikes are unfavorable for the languid economy,” Lin Por-fong said.
President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration increased taxes on high-income earners, multiple home owners, lenders and insurers, as well as property transaction gains, stock dividends and luxury goods.
I-Mai Foods Co (義美食品) chairman Henry Kao (高志尚) said at the gathering that he hopes the new government would draw up a more balanced and diversified industry policy rather than focus on the manufacturing sector alone.
“Taiwanese manufacturers have made great contributions to the nation’s economy, but non-technology and service-oriented companies also deserve government help to expand into overseas markets,” Kao said.
The latter sectors hire more staff and the government should help to build them into multinational corporations, Kao said.
“We are anxious to know who will head the Ministry of Economic Affairs so we can arrange a meaningful conversation… The government should recruit some new blood to demonstrate its commitment to change,” Kao said.
Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東) said he is looking forward to a government of “innovation” and “efficiency,” and called on Tsai to be a good president for all, not just her party and supporters.
“It is time for action… Peace is the foundation for all undertakings,” Hsu said.
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