Nation urged to up regional economic integration
CNATAIPEI -- Taiwan should speed up its participation in regional economic integration in line with global trends, experts said.
October 4, 2013, 12:17 am TWN
Economic integration is moving forward rapidly in Asia, with talks on the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and on free trade agreements among China, Japan and South Korea all ongoing, said Wu Chung-shu, president of the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research.
“Regional integration is inevitable,” Wu said at an international conference held by his think tank in Taipei.
Taiwan is one of the world's important exporters and manufacturers of key components and thus being part of the TPP and RCEP would be beneficial not only to Taiwan but also other countries in the economic blocs, he said.
Shandre Thangavelu, an associate professor in economics at National University of Singapore, echoed Wu's view, saying that Taiwan is in a good spot, close to China, one of the world's growth engines.
“Taiwan is a strong economy and part of the supply chains ... You can take advantage of regional economic integration,” he said.
Asked if China would hold back Taiwan's participation in the regional integration process due to political issues, Thangavelu said China should welcome Taiwan's inclusion.
“China will gain if Taiwan comes into the picture because when we talk about regional integration itself, we cannot isolate key countries like Taiwan, which plays an important part in the value chain,” he told CNA on the sidelines of the conference.
Taiwan's inclusion can make any economic bloc stronger, in terms of trade, investment or technology, Thangavelu said, and the island can also help China's development, as the world's second-largest economy moves to more value-added and technology-based production.
Wang Jinbo, an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told CNA that China's attitude is “very active,” and it would at least not oppose Taiwan's move to participate in such regional integration.
The Chinese scholar saw China's emphasis at the moment, however, on the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed between Taiwan and China in 2010, saying that the deal covers a wide range of trade issues.
“China's priority now is to develop and reform its economy, not free trade negotiations,” Wang said, explaining that the main reason China is engaging in free trade agreements with other countries is simply to “accommodate the global trend.”
Once further deep Taiwan-China cooperation is formed, economic interests in the Greater China region will not be greatly influenced even without any other regional integration, Wang said, without elaborating on how such an outcome would affect Taiwan alone.