Experts suggest Taiwan expand its New Southbound Policy

Taipei, Ample opportunity exists for Taiwan to cooperate with countries in South Asia in the areas of entrepreneurship, public health and women's empowerment, a former United States official specializing in the region said in Taipei on Friday.

Speaking at the Yushan Forum, Atul Keshap, vice chancellor of the College of International Security Affairs at National Defense University in the United States, offered a number of suggestions on initiatives Taiwan can take to engage with South Asian countries.

For example, Taiwan can collaborate with Bangladesh to expand into electronics manufacturing, partner with Sri Lanka to develop its information technology sector, or collaborate with India to develop high value/high trust supply chains, Keshap said.

"The U.S. can be a partner in these efforts through the Global Cooperation and Training Framework and there are no doubt many more avenues for mutually beneficial cooperation," said Keshap, former U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka from 2015 to 2018.

Such efforts will forge additional Indo-Pacific linkages, boost prosperity and trade, enhance security, and help the aspirational people of a democratic South Asia taste even more of the prosperity of the modern world, Keshap added.

"For this vision to become a reality, it is absolutely vital and essential that all of us strive to ensure a Free and Open Indo-Pacific for the next 70 years and beyond," he said.

The Yushan Forum was inaugurated last October as an institutionalized platform to promote cooperation among regional countries under the New Southbound Policy (NSP). It is hosted by the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation, a national think tank focusing on the policy.

The NSP aims to strengthen Taiwan's partnership with countries in Southeastern Asia, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand through various initiatives spanning the areas of innovative industries, medical technology, youth exchange, agriculture, and talent cultivation.

Also at the forum, Kasit Piromya, a former foreign minister of Thailand, said the areas covered by the NSP "are not enough" and suggested that Taiwan also share its knowledge on democratization with NSP target countries, most of which are still struggling for democratic evolution.

"The highlights about democratic achievement must be told to the world. It would be part of the brand name of Taiwan," Piromya said in a speech delivered at the Forum.

Now in its second year, the number of people signed up for the two-day forum, themed "Working Together for Regional Prosperity," surpassed 1,100, including incumbent and former government officials, entrepreneurs, civil society activists, and think tank experts, from about 20 countries.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel