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Official lays out 2017 focus of New Southbound Policy

2017/05/05 19:22:28

John Deng (鄧振中, second right)

Taipei, May 5 (CNA) Taiwan will focus on talent development, health care, agriculture and startups by young adults in promoting its "New Southbound Policy" to advance relations with countries in Southeast and South Asia, an official responsible for carrying out the policy said Friday.

Speaking at a forum on Asia's economic prospects in 2017, Minister without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) outlined the four main areas the New Southbound Policy will focus on in the near future. The first is to attract more students from Southeast Asia to study in Taiwan and focus on cultivating talent to meet the private sector's needs, he said.

The second is to promote Taiwan's health care industry in the ASEAN market to expand the country's presence there, he said.

Agriculture will also be an emphasis, Deng said, noting that with ASEAN countries intent on agricultural development, Taiwan will have opportunities to seek closer cooperation with them.

Finally, as Taiwan promotes young adult startups at home, it should take the opportunity to encourage its young entrepreneurs to focus on the Southeast Asian market, Deng said.

The New Southbound Policy, initiated by the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) last year, is aimed at forging closer economic ties with the 10 nations of ASEAN, along with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Australia and New Zealand, to reduce Taiwan's economic dependence on China.

Deng said the policy has shown results since it was implemented last year, citing an increase in tourists and foreign students from the region visiting or studying in Taiwan and trade growth with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

According to a Cabinet news release on Thursday, the number of tourists visiting Taiwan from the 18 designated countries totaled 513,457 in the first quarter of 2017, up 33.26 percent from the same period last year.

Taiwan's trade with these countries from June 2016 to March this year also saw a 10.11 percent increase year-on-year, the statement said, citing official statistics.

In terms of educational exchanges, Taiwan welcomed 31,531 students from the target countries for the current school year, up 9.7 percent from the previous school year, it said.

(By Tsai Yi-chu and Elaine Hou)
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