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Ma believes Taiwan can overcome difficulties

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday expressed confidence that Taiwan will overcome all difficulties although its economic recovery has been slow.

Speaking in Tainan, Ma admitted that the economy has struggled this year, but gradual improvements have been seen since September. Economic growth for 2012 will still be more than 1 percent, and it will rebound to 3 percent next year, he said.

Unlike the financial tsunami four years ago, where the rebound came fast in a “V”shape, Ma said, the current woes will need more time to recover, coming in a “U” shape.

“I believe that the people in Taiwan are capable of clearing one hurdle after another,” Ma was cited by the United Evening News as saying during a visit to a temple in Tainan.

Ma last visited the temple in 2011 ahead of the presidential election, and this time he prayed for the nation, the paper said.

The president noted that Taiwan has still made some breakthroughs during the difficult times, obtaining visa-free status from the United States and registering a record number of foreign visitors. The latest number of visitors stands at 60.2 million so far this year, compared to 37.2 million for the entire 2007, he said.

But the Central News Agency reported that Taiwan lagged behind its major competitors in Asia in terms of merchandise exports for 2011, despite an increase from 2010.

The CNA cited a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) showing merchandise exports from Taiwan last year reached US$308.26 billion, increasing by US$33.62 billion from 2010.

The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2012, which covers international trade and investment data, shows that Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore recorded higher levels of merchandise exports last year, according to CAN.

The UNCTAD report also discloses that for the first time in more than 40 years, Taiwan registered a negative inflow of foreign direct investments (FDI) in 2011. Taiwan's FDI inflow last year was minus US$1.96 billion, compared with US$2.49 billion in 2010, according to the statistics.

Commenting on the report, Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford said Taiwan's exports have been recovering and performance next year will be better than this year.

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