Lin details vision for fast-tracking Taiwan’s economic development

The government is willing to cooperate with global high-tech industry heavyweights to create more homegrown success stories like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Premier Lin Chuan said May 5 in a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg in Taipei City.

Top priority is to create a business environment fostering innovative entrepreneurship, development of emerging industries and better connections between local industries and the rest of the world, Lin said. Equally important, is addressing issues hamstringing Taiwan's economic development by bringing in more foreign talent, he added.

On April 20, the Cabinet greenlighted a bill easing immigration rules for foreign professionals working or seeking employment in Taiwan. The National Development Council-proposed legislation covers such areas as immediate health coverage and permanent residency applications for dependents, internship visas and taxation benefits.

The premier said a raft of additional measures and regulatory reforms, including the five-plus-two innovative industries initiative, has been implemented with an emphasis on putting Taiwan's economy on the path toward sustainable development and long-term prosperity.

At the vanguard of government efforts to revitalize Taiwan's economy, the initiative targets the five emerging and high-growth sectors of biotech and pharmaceuticals, green energy, national defense, smart machinery and Internet of Things, as well as focuses on promotion of two core concepts: circular economy and a new paradigm for agricultural development.

Taiwan cannot fall behind in the Industry 4.0 race, Lin said, adding that the Internet of Things-focused Asian Silicon Valley initiative is the government's response to this challenge. Approved last September by the Cabinet, the initiative is a comprehensive industrial development undertaking for transforming northern Taiwan's Taoyuan City into the country's first international hub of tech innovation.

According to the premier, Taiwan possesses great advantages in smart manufacturing and management processes. The initiative will assist in fostering an environment in which new ideas can be realized and opportunities created, he said.

The Forward-looking Infrastructure Program will also play a key role in this goal, Lin said. Budgeted at NT$880 billion (US$29.16 billion), the near-decadelong FIP is aimed at stimulating growth and driving Taiwan's industrial transformation over the next 30 years. It spans five main areas: digital infrastructure, railways, renewable energy, urban-rural development and water resources, and is forecast to add NT$975.9 billion to the country's real gross domestic product over eight years while creating up to 50,000 new jobs.

Another important piece in the puzzle, the premier said, is an amendment to the Electricity Act aimed at opening Taiwan's renewable energy market and putting in place related regulatory and management measures. Approved last October by the Cabinet, the legislation will enable the government to achieve its goal of increasing renewable energy's share of national power production from the current 4 percent to 20 percent by 2025.

The amendment should see the development of solar energy heat up over the next two years, with wind power sailing ahead in another four, Lin said, adding that the government's commitment in this regard is generating great interest among leading global wind power firms, especially those headquartered in Europe.

On the international front, the premier said it is important Taiwan seeks balanced development in trade relations with its major partners for mutual benefits through a low-key and pragmatic approach.

The government will maintain Taiwan's friendly, smooth and equitable trade ties with mainland China and capitalize on the complementary nature of the economies of the two sides of the strait, Lin said. At the same time, it is to continue enhancing cooperation with other trading partners like the EU and U.S. with a view that this also bodes well for the positive development of cross-strait relations, he added.

Signing economic cooperation agreements with the EU and U.S. is of the utmost importance for the government, the premier said. Taiwan is ready and willing to engage in negotiations on this matter with great sincerity, adding that given the complementary nature of the economies of Taiwan and the U.S., this relationship can help boost the global competitiveness of American products.

Lin said the New Southbound Policy is a key component of the government's national development strategy. The policy seeks to deepen Taiwan's agricultural, business, cultural, educational, tourism and trade ties with the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand.

The premier said he is cautiously optimistic on Taiwan's economic outlook, and anticipates a further strengthening of its overall competitiveness. As development picks up pace, the government remains committed to pursuing an open policy of full communication with the people so as to build broad-based consensus on charting the correct course for the nation, he added.

Source: Taiwan Today