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Liberalizing Taiwan's economy helps attract talent: scholar

2012/04/17 23:48:15

Taipei, April 17 (CNA) The benefits of liberalizing Taiwan's economy are many, including the prevention of political anxiety and the country's brain drain, a U.S. specialist in international studies said Tuesday.

The liberalization process would relax Taiwan's sovereignty tensions resulting from its frequent exchanges with China and attract more talent to the island, said John Hamre, president and CEO of the Washington-headquartered Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Taiwan is on a trajectory of grafting its economy onto China, which is making people nervous about national sovereignty, he said in an interview with CNA.

In 2010, Taiwan and China signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, a bilateral preferential trade agreement. There have since been worries that Taiwan will become over-reliant on China economically.

President Ma Ying-jeou has nevertheless said on several occasions that the agreement is a purely economic pact that does not involve sovereignty issues.

Hamre, however, said he believes that the closer the economic integration is with China, the more the question looms of Taiwan losing its sovereignty.

"I think the only way out of that is for Taiwan to liberalize its economy and embrace a globally competitive environment," he added.

Young talent, moreover, could be drawn to such an environment, he added.

"I don't think in that environment you'll see a brain drain ... If the exciting opportunities are here, young people will stay," he said.

Days earlier, a Singaporean politician described Taiwan as facing a brain drain due to its failure to keep domestic talent and attract foreigners.

Taiwan will become less globally competitive if it does not keep up with other Asian countries, Hamre said.

"It is certainly lagging behind ... Obviously, Korea and Singapore are much more advanced in liberalizing their economies," he said.

Taiwan's first step toward economic liberalization would be to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he said.

Last year, Ma vowed to steer Taiwan toward joining that trade bloc within the next decade, promising to work on liberalizing the country's economy to create the conditions necessary to join the partnership.

(By Nancy Liu)