New Southbound Policy highlighted by South, Southeast Asian media

President Tsai Ing-wen's New Southbound Policy was recently spotlighted in articles by six leading media outlets in South and Southeast Asia, underscoring the effectiveness of the initiative in deepening people-to-people and trade ties between Taiwan and the regions.

The stories were published May 5-10 by BW Businessworld from India, Kompas from Indonesia, The Sun from Malaysia, Philippine Daily Inquirer from the Philippines, The Straits Times from Singapore and The Nation from Thailand. Journalists from the organizations jointly conducted an interview with Tsai May 5 at the Office of the President in Taipei City.

A key plank of the president's national development strategy, the New Southbound Policy seeks to deepen Taiwan's links with Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand in areas spanning agriculture, business, culture, education, tourism and trade.

According to an article in BW Businessworld, Tsai explained that fostering ties with India forms a core component of the policy, with the government prioritizing industrial cooperation, manufacturing capabilities and resource and talent sharing. The magazine also cited comments by Tsai expressing Taiwan's willingness to participate in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Make in India campaign, which is aimed at strengthening the nation's industrial base.

In a series of articles, Kompas highlighted comments from Tsai regarding the potential for shipbuilding cooperation with Indonesia given Taiwan's competitive advantage in the sector and the importance of ship transport in the sprawling Southeast Asian archipelago nation.

The Kompas pieces conveyed the president's words of appreciation for the contributions of Indonesian migrant workers to Taiwan's development. They also spotlighted efforts under the New Southbound Policy to build a Muslim-friendly environment in Taiwan and implement measures to assist local firms in expanding their reach in Muslim markets.

According to The Sun, the New Southbound Policy is aimed at strengthening Taiwan's external economy and building more beneficial relations with the global community. Tsai was quoted by the Malaysian daily as saying that the policy and cross-strait economic relations are complementary as they play different roles in regional development.

In articles by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the initiative is described as reaching out to the country's closest ASEAN neighbors to cultivate economic and trade links. The reports stated that the president is pleased by warming relations between Taiwan and the Philippines and hopes to further increase exchanges through such measures as boosting the number of Filipino students in Taiwan.

Academic and talent exchanges are a major focus of the policy as they can serve to enhance long-term ties while bolstering the industrial talent pool in Taiwan, the broadsheet added.

According to The Straits Times, Tsai made it clear that Taiwan's efforts to grow its presence in the region are not about geopolitics, but aim to foster collaboration in such fields as small and medium enterprise development. She was also quoted as saying that she hopes Singapore can help Taiwan advance its trade ties with ASEAN countries.

In a story by The Nation, the president said the New Southbound Policy focuses on wide-ranging cooperation and how Taiwan can play a more proactive role in a community of so many close neighbors. Taiwan is also seeking a free trade agreement with Thailand to boost trade, investment and cultural exchanges, the article stated. (SFC-E)

Source: Taiwan Today