To advance prosperity, peace and stability, Taiwan hopes to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and sign economic cooperation agreements with regional partners, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday, as she opened the Yushan Forum in Taipei.
The theme of this year’s forum, which was held by the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation at the Grand Hyatt Taipei, was “Forging a Resilient Future Together.”
In addition to a panel of experts, the event speakers — via videoconferencing — included former government officials from 12 countries — including former prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, Carl Bildt of Sweden and Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark — as well as US Representative Ted Yoho and Japan-ROC Diet Members’ Consultative Council chairman Keiji Furuya.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
An escalation in strategic competition is reshaping the Indo-Pacific region’s geopolitical and economical landscapes, Tsai said, citing the importance of the region, which accounts for 50 percent of world trade and 60 percent of global GDP, while playing a pivotal role in supply chains.
COVID-19 and persistent military threats from a “particular source” also pose unprecedented challenges to “our shared prosperity and way of life,” she said.
Countries in the region can complement each other, she said, adding that Taiwan’s capability and willingness to collaborate with regional partners engendered its regional strategy for Asia — the New Southbound Policy.
“We hope to work with regional partners and, together, to forge a resilient future,” Tsai said.
Taiwan has achieved one of the policy’s most important goals — to ensure sustainable prosperity for the Asian community — by signing more than 70 memorandums of understanding with Southeast Asian countries, India, New Zealand and Australia, she said.
Despite the pandemic, Taiwan continues to enjoy robust trade with these countries, with trade volumes totaling nearly US$112 billion last year and reaching US$52 billion in the first half of this year, Tsai added.
The number of students from these nations studying in Taiwan exceeds 53,000, she said, adding that a marked increase in enrollment in programs involving industry-academia collaboration not only fosters talent for local development, but also helps local businesspeople to network with businesspeople in partner nations.
Tourists from nations covered by the policy last year increased 6.8 percent increase, or by 2.8 million visits, while Taiwanese visited those countries 3.2 million times, up 15.1 percent from 2018, she said.
“Under the New Southbound Policy, Taiwan and our partner nations have created mutually friendly investment environments,” she added.
Taiwan would eagerly contribute to creating an open, free, inclusive, transparent and equal region that operates under a rules-based order, Tsai said, adding that Taiwan opposes any unilateral aggressive actions that might jeopardize regional security and solidarity.
“Any political attempt to prevent Taiwan from sharing its experience and making contributions does not serve the collective interests of the region,” she said.
Tsai thanked the representatives from Australia, the US and other like-minded countries for joining the forum and expressing support for Taiwan in such a turbulent era.
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