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China and Hong Kong make up 22% of foreign trade in first five months

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Mainland China and Hong Kong accounted for 21.6 percent of Taiwan's total foreign trade in the first five months of the year, showing no significant change in their share of Taiwan's total export value.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) recently said that the government's efforts to diversify the country's export markets are paying dividends given that this number has hovered around the same level since 2010 and increased 1.8 percentage points since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008.

A breakdown of export figures for 2014 shows that 26.2 percent of Taiwan's shipments went to mainland China, a number that has not vaulted past 28 percent over the past six years, said the MOEA.

In contrast, exports to members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) rose from 15.2 percent in 2008 to 19.2 percent as of May this year.

The MOEA said it is planning programs to expand the presence of Taiwan firms in emerging markets such as Eastern Europe, India, Latin America and the Middle East. These will be developed and implemented in conjunction with the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA).

TAITRA organized 230 overseas trade promotion events over the past year and managed to invite 83,108 buyers to Taiwan in 2013, which was over 6,000 more than in 2012.

"Of course, mainland China is a major market and production base for Taiwan. But it also impacts Taiwan in other ways, with the development of cross-strait relations shaping the attitudes of trading partners toward our bid for regional economic integration." an MOEA official said.

Going forward, the official urged the people of Taiwan to view cross-strait economic collaboration, including the trade in services agreement, in a rational manner for the best interests of the country.

Roy Lee, deputy executive director of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and RTA Center of the Chunghua Institution for Economic Research recently noted that Taiwan has enjoyed a trade surplus of between US$80 billion and US$90 billion with China over the past few years, while its trade surplus with the rest of the world has totaled US$30 billion.

"If Taiwan's trade surplus with China is reduced, its trade surplus with the rest of the world will also be reduced," he said.

Lee expressed concern about a free trade agreement (FTA) between China and South Korea, which is expected to be signed at the end of the year, as Taiwan's export items overlap with those of South Korea.

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