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New Southbound Policy seeing initial results: president

2018/10/11 14:22:53

President Tsai Ing-wen

Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) The New Southbound Policy launched by the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) after her inauguration two years ago is bearing fruit with closer ties in terms of trade, economic and cultural exchanges between Taiwan and countries targeted by the policy, Tsai said Thursday.

During her address at the opening of the Yushan Forum, Tsai said since the launch of the policy, which seeks to enhance exchange with neighboring Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members, India, Australia and New Zealand, there have been some significant results.

For instance, in the first half of 2018, Taiwan welcomed more than 41,000 students from New Southbound countries, Tsai said, adding that the number will rise again next year as the government has set a goal of 48,000 students over the same period.

"Our young people are also choosing New Southbound countries as their study destination. Last year, the number of Taiwanese students studying in those countries increased by nearly 20 percent (compared with the previous year)," the president said.

In addition, over 4 million tourists have visited Taiwan over the past two years from New Southbound Policy countries, which is helping to forge closer people-to-people ties.

Bilateral trade between Taiwan and those countries has also increased significantly, according to Tsai.

"Last year alone, bilateral trade between Taiwan and New Southbound countries grew by around 15 percent year-on-year. Taiwan's investment in those countries rose by 54 percent, and approved investment from those countries in Taiwan also increased by about 15 percent," she noted.

The president said the two-day Yushan Forum, which was launched last year to promote Taiwan's regional status and support the government's efforts to forge a broader relationship with countries targeted by the New Southbound Policy, is a "unique platform celebrating diversity, innovation and progressive values."

Tsai said she hopes the forum will become one of Asia's premier events on regional affairs and cooperation.

To conclude her remark, she borrowed a quote from former Philippine Vice President Guingona, who said at last year's inaugural Yushan Forum that "We help each other. The Philippines to help Taiwan, and Taiwan to help the Philippines."

Tsai said the quote exemplified the spirit of the Yushan Forum and the New Southbound Policy as a whole, which is "Taiwan can help Asia, and Asia can help Taiwan."

According to its organizers, 48 speakers from 18 countries will attend the two-day forum.

(By Joseph Yeh)