President Tsai Ing-wen announced Monday that the southern port of Kaohsiung would serve as the base for Taiwan's efforts to increase trade and investment with Southeast Asian countries.
She called for a "dual track" approach utilizing both central and local government resources to increase the scope and effectiveness of the ‘New Southbound Policy’ — a cornerstone policy of the president that aims to expand Taiwan's economic ties beyond existing partners such as mainland China.
Tsai, speaking at a weekly policy coordination committee meeting, emphasized the importance of municipal participation in carrying out economic proposals and said Kaohsiung, as Taiwan's largest southern city, was optimally suited to be a key base of operations for the policy, according to Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu was also in attendance and presented ways in which the city could cultivate the talent, industrial knowhow and cooperation necessary for the policy to succeed, Huang said.
Tsai then instructed Premier Lin Chuan to have the Executive Yuan formulate policies and allocate resources to facilitate Kaohsiung in filling the role.
The president also cited the importance of official high-level contact with potential partner countries, cooperation between public-private think tanks and increased investment guarantees for Taiwanese enterprises abroad.
In the face of Taiwan's difficulties on the international stage, the island needed even more nimble strategies and practical methods to bolster its economic ties worldwide, the president was quoted as saying.
Tsai said past experiences in southbound investment lacked adequate research into specific nations' industrial sectors. She said that in the short term, resources would need to be pooled and broadly exercised to favorably project Taiwan's image throughout major Southeast Asian cities, such as through exhibitions and forums.
She also said it was important to leverage the power of Taiwanese agricultural development firms internationally, to increase the recruitment of overseas Taiwanese in the region and to continue efforts to seal investment agreements.
The ‘New Southbound Policy’, the planning and implementation of which involves 16 central government agencies, aims to deepen economic and cultural links with 18 nations in Southeast Asia and Oceania and has a proposed annual budget of $42 billion new Taiwan dollars.
In related news, Taiwan's Agricultural Technology Research Institute (ATRI) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Manila-based Taiwan Association Philippines, Inc. to promote the ‘New Southbound Policy’ through agricultural cooperation.
As part of the agreement, the ATRI will share advanced agricultural technologies, provide training, conduct market surveys and conclude international partnerships to better service Taiwanese enterprises operating in the Philippines.
The ATRI has already signed similar agreements with Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.
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