Vincent Shaw: Liberalization is key to economic turnaround
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-24 10:29 AM
Former Vice President Vincent Siew said Sunday that if Taiwan's economy is to "turn around," everyone must recognize that a free economy is Taiwan's lifeline to the rest of the world, and the government and the people must work together to build a better future for all.

Siew made his remarks at the Taipei Forum Foundation’s National Institute of Development Studies at National Chengchi University. The event brought together outstanding high-level economic policy makers to discuss Taiwan's economic development strategy and tactics in the era of globalization.

Siew said Taiwan is currently in danger of being marginalized in the global economy and warned that the nation’s reliance on export growth to fuel economic development is not sustainable. Siew pointed out that slow adjustment in the industrial structure, cross-strait economic challenges, increasing competition and a lack of awareness of the need to promote reform have led to a series of economic crises in Taiwan.

He pointed out that the global economy has changed dramatically since the 2008 financial crisis, and the altered economic environment has seriously impacted Taiwan's export-oriented economic development model. He added that Taiwan still has its advantages, however, including an outstanding geographical location, a solid industrial base, a tight-knit network of foreign trade and its status in the global supply chain. If the island can take advantage of these opportunities it will be in a better position to cope with changing conditions and maintain its place in the world economy.

Siew said that the key to development for Taiwan is a free and liberalized of economy, stressing that Taiwan must meet international standards in order to maintain its position in the international arena. He went on to say that although everyone claims to be in favor of free and open industry, they often develop reservations when the time comes to actually act on those beliefs. Past experience has shown, however, that in the past when Taiwan has opened up its production industries, no real serious damage to the economy has occurred.

Siew noted that during the 1980s when was responsible for international trade, McDonald's and other leaders in the US fast food industry demanded that Taiwan open up its market to foreign brands. The snack industry was appalled at the prospect of letting in overseas competitors, but Siew pointed out that now foreign chains like McDonald’s and Taiwan restaurants, diners and street vendors form a varied and thriving grid of businesses all across the island. He added that the range of dining choices in Taiwan is one of its greatest appeals to tourists from overseas.

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