Ma urges shedding of 'protectionist mindset'
By Enru Lin ,The China PostPresident Ma Ying-jeou called for Taiwan to shed its “protectionist mindset,” one roadblock to its global competitiveness.
April 20, 2012, 12:28 am TWN
“To achieve trade liberalization and the rewards that come with it, Taiwan must make the first step of shedding its protectionist mindset,” Ma said to the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taipei late yesterday.
Presiding at the annual AmCham Hsieh Nian Fan (謝年飯) banquet, Ma identified the “protectionist” rejection of ractopamine-containing U.S. beef as the key cause for stalled trade negotiations.
Trade talks with the U.S. have stood at a standstill since 1994 — “due to of course the beef issue,” he said.
Ma told the mostly international crowd that carving out room in Taiwan for U.S. beef remains a top political priority.
“Currently my administration is working very hard to create the necessary conditions so that TIFA talks can be jump-started,” he said.
A Lot at 'steak': AIT
“Every time I go back to Washington, I get 'grilled' on increasing U.S. imports to Taiwan,” quipped Director William Stanton of American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).
“There's really a lot at 'steak' for America,” he said, taking the stage after Ma.
Stanton stressed that there is also much at stake for Taiwan.
Creating regulatory systems that are aligned with “science” and “international standards” is what Taiwan must do to “sustain its so-called luck,” he said.
Other “essential components” to securing Taiwan's economic future are “further market liberalization,” “reducing barriers to trade integration,” and “consulting with key industry partners” such as AmCham, he said.
Ma to Open Doors of Campus, Office
Also yesterday, Ma said he is working to add more foreign talent to Taiwan's labor pool and schools.
Campuses are increasingly lowering the bar for an ever-diminishing school-age population.
“Forty-four years ago, when I took the college entrance examination, the admission rate was only 27 percent — but today it is 92 percent,” said Ma.
“In those old days, it was not very easy to get into university. These days, it is not easy to be rejected.”
Opening the door further for international students and professors will “raise the bar of Taiwan's education system to a higher international standard,” said Ma.
“In conjunction with that, Taiwan must also adopt a far-sighted immigration policy that will not (just) attract foreign talent, but encourage their desire to make long-term contributions to Taiwanese society.”
Taiwan must foster diversity and tolerance in its labor pool, instead of “stifling creativity,” he said.