President Ma Ying-jeou said Nov. 27 that the government is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to secure Taiwan’s participation in trade blocs such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Taiwan is embracing liberalization and undergoing a root-and-branch process of regulatory reform, he said. These measures will ensure the country is not left on the sidelines of regional integration, he added.
Ma made the remarks while receiving Kishore Mahbubani, dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, at the Presidential Office in Taipei City. This is the second visit to Taiwan by the renowned Singaporean scholar.
According to the president, the conclusion last year of an economic partnership agreement between Taiwan and Singapore was a significant development. “It is the first such pact signed by the country with a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” he said.
The agreement has created real benefits for both sides since it took effect in April this year, Ma said. “This is evidenced by total exports to Singapore of US$10.92 billion from May to October, up 7.6 percent, while shipments from the city-state to Taiwan rose 6 percent to US$6.59 billion between May and September.”
Ma said around 70 percent of Singapore’s exports are now covered by free trade agreements. “The country’s aggressive approach to inking such pacts serves as a good example for Taiwan given they share a similar economic structure.”
Concerning Taiwan’s roles as a regional peacemaker, the president said the East China Sea Peace Initiative, which he proposed in August 2012, enabled Taiwan and Japan to sign a landmark fisheries agreement the following year. “It also paved the way for Taiwan and the Philippines to peacefully resolve a similar issue earlier this year”
Ma said the initiative was welcomed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Australian Minister of Defense David Johnston, and serves as a model for resolving the geopolitical confrontation in South China Sea. (SFC-JSM)