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Premier to head task force for FTA promotion

Premier Sean Chen said yesterday that he will personally head the “international economic and trade strategic alliance deployment” task force to promote the signing of free trade agreements (FTAs) and economic cooperation agreements (ECAs) with foreign trade partners.

Chen made the statement at a press conference held yesterday evening after winding up the first of a series of five seminars on economic, trade and financial issues.

Chen said that all the participants in the seminar expressed grave concerns over Taiwan's inclusion in international and regional economic and trade systems, and industrial and business representatives in particular proposed that the Cabinet should set up an FTA promotion strategy committee that should be headed by the premier himself.

The premier said that it's necessary for the Cabinet to expand, reorganize and rename the existing task force on promoting international economic and trade strategic alliances to include the tasks of FTA promotion and to integrate related inter-ministerial proposals. According to local reports, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) will complete the reorganization of the task force within 10 days.

After the existing task force, now headed by Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah, is upgraded and expanded, Chen said, he will personally serve as the convener of the new unit to more effectively promote the signing of FTAs and ECAs with foreign countries.

Chen also noted at the press conference that the government will push for Taiwan's entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and he hoped that local industrial and business groups will join forces with the government to accomplish the goal.

The premier continued to say that the Cabinet has invited members of the industrial and business sectors to set up consulting groups to help the government proceed with FTA negotiations.

In response to the concerns over the government's policies on developing newly emerging markets, Chen said that the MOEA and the Taiwan External Trade Development Council have been actively deploying marketing channels in emerging markets and changing Taiwan's export structures.

The premier went on to say that the MOEA will cooperate with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to carry out systematic cultivation of marketing talents needed to help local enterprises explore new markets.

The issue of how to attract foreign investment in Taiwan was another focus of discussions at yesterday's seminar. With regard to this issue, Premier Chen said that the government will relax relevant regulations and seek solutions to land, manpower and water supply problems to clear the way for more foreign investments in the island. He urged members of the industrial and business sectors to come up with effective proposals via the financial and economic regulations coordination service platform under the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD).

Premier Chen and other government officials met Saturday with industry representatives in an effort to find solutions to the challenges faced by local businesses, as well as solutions on how to attract more investment, increase exports and devise ways of integrating Taiwan into the regional economic bloc.

The three-hour closed-door meeting was attended by more than 40 senior government officials and representatives from industries such as information and communication technologies (ICT), textiles, finance and industrial equipment.

The premier said at the meeting that Taiwan is lagging behind in terms of free trade agreement networks and needs to take immediate action to avoid exclusion from the world trade system.

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Premier Sean Chen speaks at a press conference yesterday evening where he announced that he will personally head a task force to promote Taiwan's signing of free trade agreements ...

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