Taiwan faces tough challenges joining trade blocs: ex-VP
Central News Agency
2014-01-03 11:00 PM
Taipei, Jan. 3 (CNA) Taiwan is the "loneliest" in the economic arena, compared with its trade partners, and faces tough challengs trying to join regional trade blocs, former Vice President Vincent Siew said Friday. Siew said that since his retirement from governmental offices in 2012, he has freely visited many countries, including the United States, Japan, China and nations in Southeast Asia and Europe. These countries all maintain close trade and economic ties with Taiwan, he said, while explaining his decision to spend his retirement working toward the government's goal of getting the country included in economic integration.

During the visits, Siew went on, he found these nations have been very aggressive in promoting economic development. All of them are actively doing their part in economic integration, he added. But compared with these countries, "Taiwan is the loneliest" and is marginalized, he said. He said he wasn't the only one who felt this way; all the entrepreneurs who accompanied him during the visits felt the same way, and they worried for Taiwan's survival and development. They therefore have been actively striving for opportunities for Taiwan to be included in regional economic integration. However, the reality is tough, the veteran politician said. The Ma Ying-jeou government has made it a high priority this year to get Taiwan included in two economic blocs that are under negotiation -- the U.S.-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Apart from mobilizing relevant authorities to take action to reach this goal, President Ma has also invited Siew to help rally the private sector to join in on the effort. However, it is a rather challenging task, Siew said, explaining that none of the 12 countries that are negotiating the TPP agreement and 16 nations involved in the RCEP negotiations maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Compared with other countries, it is much more difficult for Taiwan to ask to be included in the two regional economic blocs, Siew said. Nevertheless, he admitted that Taiwan is used to such challenges, having faced them in the past few decades. Although it's best for him to do nothing but stay at home after retirement, Siew said, he feels he still has to do his part to help Taiwan's economy and future. In his New Year's Day address, President Ma said he will ask Siew to set up a committee composed of people from the private sector to help Taiwan join regional economic integration. For his part, Siew has promised to do his best to help Taiwan achieve early participation in the TPP and RCEP. (By Kelven Huang and Elizabeth Hsu)

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