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President proposes strategies to protect Taiwan's trade interests

2018/03/23 14:07:09

President Tsai Ing-wen

Taipei, March 23 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) laid out four strategies Friday that she said Taiwanese businesses should adopt in order to protect their interests in the face of an escalating trade war between the United States and China.

Speaking to a delegation from the Asia Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce, Tsai addressed a U.S. announcement a day earlier that it will impose tariffs on US$60 billion-worth of Chinese imports, China's proposed retaliatory tariffs on US$3 billion-worth of U.S. goods, and what Taiwan can do to protect itself from this market shakeup.

First, Tsai said, Taiwan needs to strengthen its development and production capabilities.

This means providing the techniques and added value to creating products considered to be "made in Taiwan," she said.

Another strategy is to step up domestic investment in renewable energy, urban renewal, social housing and elderly care, all of which are domestic demands that will drive the growth of Taiwan's economy, she said.

Third, the president touted the values of innovation and how elevating the country's ability to innovate, especially in technology, is the key to trade victory.

To this end, the country needs to continue to promote its "5+2 Industrial Innovation Program" and other industrial development projects at a faster rate, Tsai said.

Lastly, Taiwanese businesses should diversify the locations where they conduct trade and manufacture their goods, she said, naming the countries involved in her administration's New Southbound Policy as potential markets to tap into.

On the potential trade war between the U.S. and China, Tsai told the delegation that Taiwan has a good grasp of the situation and will continue to monitor it and respond as necessary.

Taiwan will continue to engage in negotiations with the U.S. to ensure that its trade interests are not adversely affected, Tsai said.

She also called on the U.S. and China to hold talks to avoid a full-blown trade war.

While China said it wants to avoid a trade war in response to the U.S. tariffs, the Chinese embassy in Washington issued a statement Thursday saying that "China is not afraid of and will not recoil from a trade war."

According to the statement, China will "fight to the end to defend its own legitimate interests with all necessary measures."

Taiwan's Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said Friday that his ministry has conducted studies and simulations on how Taiwan's economy might be affected by such global developments, and stands ready to comply with any orders from the Cabinet.

The previous day, Shen told reporters that Taiwanese manufacturers in China and suppliers of components that are assembled there might be negatively affected by the tariffs.

Addressing the Legislative Yuan Friday, Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) suggested that China's recently announced 31 incentives to Taiwanese businesses and talent as a way to retain them was in full knowledge that the U.S. was about to crack down on trade with China.

(By Kuan-lin Liu, Yeh Su-ping, Chung Jung-feng and Fan Cheng-hsiang)