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Asian Tigers a thing of the past: minister

TAIPEI--In a strongly worded comment, National Development Council Minister Kuan Chung-ming told a radio station Wednesday that there is no such thing as the Four Asian Tigers any more because Taiwan can no longer generate the sort of growth that earned it a place in the exclusive club.

Speaking on Taipei-based UFO Radio, the country's chief economic policy planner said that excessive restrictions and a bent toward protectionism is keeping Taiwan's economy behind its three former counterparts: Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.

“When the economy shot up rapidly in the 1980s, there was no (government) intervention, and people had a lot of creativity in doing business. But when the economy became mature, all sorts of rules were put in place,” Kuan said, attributing the sluggish economy to strict controls.

One such control is environmental concerns.

Kuan mentioned Taiwan's decision to cancel a major petrochemical plant in 2011, calling the incident a case of economic development yielding to environmentalism.

A petrochemical industrial chain could generate revenues of over NT$1 trillion (US$33 billion), he said, noting that even a small country like Singapore has a petrochemical industry. He praised the city-state's high environmental standards and quick, transparent approval process.

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