President Tsai touts mutually beneficial New Southbound Policy

President Tsai Ing-wen said May 5 that the government's New Southbound Policy aims to build mutually beneficial economic relationships with Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states and South Asian countries so as to improve the welfare of the people in Taiwan and these nations.

Tsai made the remarks at the Office of the President in Taipei City during a group interview with representatives of six media outlets from South and Southeast Asia, namely The Hindu from India, Kompas from Indonesia, The Sun from Malaysia, The Philippine Daily Inquirer from the Philippines, The Straits Times from Singapore and The Nation from Thailand.

The New Southbound Policy's aims are simple, Tsai said. It is about economics and trade. According to the president, the initiative does not seek to advance geopolitical considerations, but ensure a proactive role for Taiwan in the regional community by strengthening trade cooperation with neighboring countries in terms of markets, resources and talents.

The same day, she tweeted The #NewSouthboundPolicy isn't about making a political statement in region but how Taiwan can build more mutually beneficial relationships.

A key plank of Tsai's national development strategy, the peoplecentric policy seeks to deepen the nation's ties with ASEAN member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand in areas spanning agriculture, business, culture, education, tourism and trade.

The president explained during the group interview that the New Southbound Policy is based on economic complementarity and seeks to strengthen cooperation with target countries in talent cultivation, domestic market development, manufacturing industries and small and medium enterprises.

Taiwan has considerable expertise and experience to share in these areas, she said, adding that collaborative projects could significantly contribute to the development of partner nations while providing opportunities for local companies to expand their overseas operations.

In terms of human resources, Taiwan's high-quality colleges and universities could help train the skilled laborers, engineers and R&D staff vital for the continued development of the regions' emerging markets. Noting that around 1,200 Indian students are currently studying in the country, Tsai said the government plans to further expand scholarships for talents from the South Asian nation, while about 5,000 students from New Southbound Policy countries will receive sponsorship from Taiwan enterprises to attend local education institutions this year.

With regard to domestic market development, the president said Taiwan possesses the technical know-how to help South and Southeast Asian nations tap a variety of fresh opportunities. She cited by way of example the limited availability of seafood in inland Indian states, stating that Taiwan's expertise in aquaculture, logistics and food processing could help build this potential market.

Similarly, Taiwan's world-leading manufacturing sector, and in particular its advanced shipbuilding industry, could help unlock Indonesia's huge domestic market potential by strengthening inter-island transportation, she added.

Perhaps most significant, the president said, is collaboration on SME development. Tsai noted that Taiwan is ready and willing to share its experience of crafting an energetic and resilient SME culture, which she described as a crucial method of tackling income inequality and promoting local economies.

According to Tsai, the government has developed five new flagship projects to strengthen collaboration with target nations spanning joint development of industrial talent; innovation-based industries; medical cooperation and industrial supply chains; policy forums and youth exchange platforms; and regional agriculture.

These projects will be implemented alongside other measures to deepen people-to-people and tourism exchanges, such as relaxing visa policies and promoting halal certification. Through fostering such diverse and comprehensive interactions, the New Southbound Policy will contribute to the development and well-being of people across the region and build a sense of community between Taiwan and target nations, the president said.

Source: Taiwan Today