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May 28, 2017

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MOEA to continue China strategy, emphasize signing trade pacts: Duh

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's goal and strategy in its economic relations with China will remain the same, newly appointed Minister of Economic Affairs Duh Tyzz-jiun (杜紫軍) said Monday, a day after being named as the outgoing minister's successor.

"Although not being on the front line, I did participate in the preparations and negotiations for the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed between Taiwan and China on June 29, 2010," Duh said in response to reporters' questions.

"There will be no changes" in future cooperation with China, the country's main trading partner, said Duh, whose predecessor Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) tendered his resignation last week amid a blame game over a series of fatal gas explosions in Kaohsiung late last month.

The gas explosions on July 31, which killed 30 people and left over 300 injured, are believed to have been caused by a leak in an underground pipeline carrying propylene.

Asked if he is ready for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meeting this fall, Duh said he had not thought about this yet, but will definitely get prepared before the event, which will take place in Beijing.

In addition, the minister also vowed to sign more free trade agreements with major trading partners so as to let Taiwan stand on the same base as other countries to compete against each other fairly.

Vows to Open Door

Duh also said that he will continue reforming and upgrading Taiwan's industrial structure while opening the economy to better connect to global markets.

These are challenges Taiwan is facing, and the country "needs to act full-scale right away," Duh told reporters.

"Now everybody knows the urgency of Taiwan's economic situation," said Duh, who took over after Chang tendered his resignation amid partisan fighting over who should be held responsible for the fatal gas explosions in Kaohsiung late last month which killed 30 and left over 300 injured.

The 54-year-old Duh said he will help Taiwanese companies add value to the economy and enhance the country's competitiveness.

He pledged to work toward actively signing more free trade agreements with major trade partners to put Taiwan on equal standing with other countries for fair competition.

"It is all about team work," he said, adding that it takes effort on the part of every citizen to improve Taiwan's economy and help the country compete on the international stage.

Asked how he is going to deal with the hostile domestic political environment responsible for pushing his predecessor to resign, Duh said he will first lend his ear to any advice and criticism before working on communication.

He also vowed to do his utmost to ease anxiety over the nation's economic future.

Duh is the fourth economics minister since President Ma Ying-jeou

took office in 2008.

Duh holds a master's and a doctoral degree in forestry from National Taiwan University and conducted post-doctoral research in environmental resource engineering at the State University of New York.

He had served at the National Bureau of Standards — the predecessor of the Bureau of Standards, Metrology & Inspection —, the Department of Commerce, the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration and the Department of Industrial Technology.

He rose from the ranks in the ministry's Industrial Development Bureau to become head of the agency and was appointed as deputy economics minister in February this year.

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