Senior economics and finance officials, business representatives and academics met Saturday to discuss pressing economic issues and chart responses.
It was the first in a series of five brainstorming sessions organized by the Cabinet-level Council for Economic Planning and Development to address the country's economic woes and devise development strategies.
Premier Sean Chen presided over Saturday's meeting, which focused on export promotion, regional economic integration and follow-up negotiations related to the cross-Taiwan Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).
Top-ranking executives from the country's six largest commercial and industrial associations said prior to the session that slumping exports were their major concern.
They also expressed worry over Taiwan's slow progress in free trade agreement (FTA) talks with its major trading partners, which they said could leave local manufacturers even more vulnerable to competition with South Korean rivals in the global market.
The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the thorny economic problems facing Taiwan:
United Evening News:
The local business community is uneasy about the steady decline in exports over the past five months amid the lingering eurozone debt crisis and an anemic recovery of the U.S. economy.
In July, exports showed a rare double-digit decline of 11.6 percent year-on-year.
Chang Ping-chao, chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China, said shrinking exports are an issue of great concern.
"Worse still, our domestic investments are falling,” Chang said. “It's a very serious problem that we cannot afford to ignore."
He said the government should come up with effective tax incentives to encourage investment at home, which holds the key to boost economic growth and exports.
According to Chang, the now-defunct investment promotion statute once played a critical role in stimulating domestic investment by offering tax incentives, but the current technological innovation promotion statute is not as effective.
Tsai Lien-sheng, secretary-general of the Taipei-based Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI), said the economic stimulus packages unveiled by the government have been mostly political slogans and contain few solid measures.
"We hope the government will present effective initiatives this time around," Tsai said.
CNFI member companies are very concerned about the slow progress of Taiwan's FTA talks with other countries, he said. Taiwanese firms are now at a disadvantage in the competition with their Korean rivals because South Korea's free trade pacts with the United States and European Union have taken effect, he said.
"With South Korea now in FTA talks with China and Japan, our government should speed up ECFA-related follow-up talks with China to make it easier for our companies to enter the Chinese market,” Tsai said. "Otherwise, we could lose our competitive edge in the Chinese market to Korean companies."
In addition, he said his federation hopes to see the government come up with visionary development strategies and concrete steps to attract more investment by Taiwanese expatriates in the next two years. (Aug. 11, 2012).
United Daily News:
Saturday’s brainstorming session was due to be attended by about 25 people, including the heads of 11 ministries and Cabinet-level agencies as well as senior executives of six major business associations, representatives of textile, shipping, banking and financial service industries, and scholars, according to Executive Yuan spokesman Hu Yu-wei.
Hu said the session would devise measures to resolve various issues and challenges facing the country.
Four other sessions will be held Aug. 18, Aug. 21, Aug. 25 and Aug. 28 to deal with energy policy, financial services, labor-management relations and human resources, Hsu said. Services in the areas of tourism, conference, and exhibition will also be discussed, he added. (Aug. 11, 2012).
(By Sofia Wu)