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Free Economic Pilot Zones key to island's future development: premier

TAIPEI--The establishment of a free economic pilot zone is part of Taiwan's efforts to prepare for the next 10 to 20 years through better integration with the world, according to Premier Jiang Yi-huah.

“While hoping that other countries will open their markets to us, we have to open to other markets. However open it is around the world, we need to be equally open,” said Jiang in an interview with ERA News.

Describing the draft act on the free economic pilot zone, which was passed by the Cabinet earlier in the week, as a step that will improve the economy, Jiang said Taiwan needs to stop relying on trade barriers and protective measures to help industry and secure jobs.

The premier also said the economic gloom is not a problem that just took place this year, but the result of the lagging progress of market liberalization compared with other countries.

With business and orders being lost to other countries, local companies will gradually move their operations overseas, leading to fewer jobs in Taiwan and little growth in salaries in the long run, he added.

Opening up Taiwan's market will help industries including education, financial and medical services — in which the country's future lies — to become more competitive, the premier said.

Vice President Wu Den-yih made similar calls Sunday when attending an event of the Ching Shi Association, a civic group set up among military reservists, in Hsinchu County.

Taiwan will be isolated if the country does not join any regional trade pacts, since its economy relies on exports, Wu noted.

Taiwanese people need to become more open-minded and work together at a time when the country is facing difficulties economically, he said.

Taiwan officially launched the first phase of its free economic pilot zone project in August, covering the country's six major seaports, the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and the Pingtung Agricultural Biotechnology Park.

The draft act governing such zones, which involves deregulation for businesses operating there, is set to be sent to the Legislature by the year-end.

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