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September 22, 2017

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Industry white paper on its way, but will Ma listen?

Rock Hsu, chairman of the Chinese National Federation of Industries, will present his CFNI White Paper for 2014 to President Ma Ying-jeou on Aug. 4. In this year's white paper, released last Friday, Hsu is pressing for transformational change so that Taiwan may effectively compete on the global economic stage.

Hsu harshly lashed out at the Kuomintang administration for doing next to nothing to stop Taiwan from losing its economic growth momentum in the harsh economic environment surrounding it. Growth of earnings is slow, while Taiwan is facing more challenges as other nations are fast joining networks of regional economic integration. Taiwan has difficulty joining either the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

According to the 7th CFNI annual report, the Taiwan economy has been bogged down in a quagmire for the past three years while its gross domestic product grew 2 to 3 percent annually. Ma's 2008 campaign promises to make GDP grow 6 percent a year, reduce unemployment to below 3 percent and increase Taiwan's per capita income to at least US$30,000 — known as his "633 Plan" — are far from being realized. With high unemployment and sluggish growth of earnings, young people have little to expect for their future, engendering public discontent that erupted as the Sunflower student movement from March 18 through April 10. Anti-China student activists hijacked the Legislative Yuan and stormed the government house of the Executive Yuan.

All the while, political bickering between the Kuomintang and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party has slowed down Taiwan's economic development and eroded its national competitiveness. Moreover, Taiwan's civil society is protesting against almost all government policies vis-a-vis trade with China, energy and further liberalization of foreign trade that are essential to its economic development.

Mr. Hsu pointed out Taiwan will stand to lose as much as US$36.8 billion a year in cross-strait trade when South Korea and China sign a free trade agreement at the end of this year. The loss will be incurred by steel, textile, petrochemical, plastics, glass, automobile, TV panel and machine tool industries. "Taiwan will be a loser," he stressed. He lamented that the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services has been stalled in the Legislative Yuan since it was signed in Shanghai in June last year and an agreement on trade in goods under negotiation is unlikely to be concluded before the end of this year.

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