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May 29, 2017

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Call-to-arms sounded for economic growth, again

In his New Year's Day speech, President Ma Ying-jeou announced that economic growth will once again be the primary goal of the administration in the second year of his second term.

The refrain of familiar slogans about mobilizing the nation in the pursuit of economic growth once again filled the ears of attendees gathered before the Presidential Office, a peculiar development observed among those who hold successive presidential terms in Taiwan.

During former President Chen Shui-bian's two terms, the economic call-to-arms was sounded on too many occasions to count. In 2001, Chen promised to begin stimulating the economy with the formation of a research institute in May, after a round of diplomatic state visits in June, and after his daughter's marriage in September. Chen also promised to stimulate the economy in 2002 after the birth of his grandchild, in 2003 after his son's marriage, and in 2005 after the KMT concluded its election for party chairmanship.

Ma first promised to revitalize Taiwan's economy in 2007, while preparing for his presidential bid in 2008. In the following year after taking office, Ma tasked then-Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) with the formation of a committee comprised of experts drawn from the financial sector. Refrains of his pledge to improve economic conditions have since continued throughout his two terms in office.

On New Year's Day, Ma once again sounded the call-to-arms for economic growth, calling upon Siew to assist the government in garnering support from the private sector in Taiwan's bid to participate in a number of regional trade pacts including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP, 跨太平洋夥伴協定) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP, 區域全面經濟夥伴關係).

Ma's grand plans for Taiwan's economic recovery met with a tepid reception, especially in his naming of the former vice president, who has not produced tangible results since his first attempt back in 2008.

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