The government’s New Southbound Policy last year boosted tourism and trade links with the countries covered by the policy, while education programs stagnated, statistics published by the Executive Yuan’s Office of Trade Negotiations showed.
People visiting Taiwan from the 18 nations covered by the policy last year rose by 2.7 million people, or 6.8 percent, from the previous year, the figures showed.
They accounted for 23 percent of all foreign visitors to Taiwan, the office said.
Taiwanese visiting the policy nations rose 15.1 percent annually to 3.2 million, accounting for 18.8 percent of all Taiwanese traveling abroad, it said.
Taiwan also rose to third place in the top 10 list of non-Organization of Islamic Cooperation destinations, up from fifth in 2018, the office said, citing the 2019 Global Muslim Travel Index published by CrescentRating and Mastercard.
Taiwan’s exports to policy nations last year totaled US$63.1 billion, while imports were US$48.8 billion, the office said.
The government authorized 267 investment applications totaling US$2.79 billion in the countries covered by the policy and authorized 645 applications by companies from the countries to invest in Taiwan, for a total US$1.09 billion, the office said.
Taiwanese construction projects under the policy focus on power plants, petrochemical industries, electronic toll collection systems, mass-rapid transit systems, and environmental and water resource projects, it said.
As of December last year, Taiwanese companies had received permission to start 41 construction projects valued at NT$26.4 billion (US$871.2 million at the current exchange rate), the office said.
In education, 53,099 students came to Taiwan from policy countries, while 21,718 Taiwanese students went to countries covered by the policy to study, it said.
The number of foreign students enrolled in the normal program specifically created for the policy last year totaled 1,346 people, falling from 4,004 in 2018, the office said.
The number of students enrolled in the mid-high-tier professional skill program also fell from 87 in 2018 to 30 last year, it said.
Last year, 844 foreign students were enrolled in the youth vocational training course in 15 educational institutes, and 2,115 students were enrolled in the compatriots’ vocational classes at high schools and universities, the office said.
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