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Taiwan urged to focus more on service sector

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan should focus more on its service industry in addition to being innovative and creative, visiting competitiveness experts said.

It is critical for Taiwan to diversify its industries, as the country is very dependent on the information technology (IT) industry, said Dominique Turpin, president of the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management and Development (IMD).

With the rapid changes in the IT industry, today's winners could be tomorrow's losers, he told CNA, urging Taiwan, which exports mainly industrial manufacturing products, to turn to the service industry, as Hong Kong and Singapore have done.

However, Turpin said that he was not urging Taiwan to follow any other economy's footsteps, but to find its own route to success. Each country has its problems and there is no single success model to suit all kinds, he added.

Innovative business models are important, and even mature industries, such as flip-flop manufacturing and coffee shops, can still be reinvented, Turpin said.

Arturo Bris, a finance professor at IMD, echoed Turpin's view, saying that Taiwan is on the right track of developing from agriculture to manufacturing and then the service industry.

The challenge now for Taiwan is how to create jobs at the same time as boosting its service output, he said, noting that exporting services, unlike exporting manufacturing products, does not create local jobs.

The two experts were invited to visit Taiwan to talk about world competitiveness at a forum held by the Taipei-based Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce.

Taiwan was ranked 11th in the IMD 2013 global competitiveness rankings, down four notches from 2012, due mainly to a weak domestic economy and employment figures.

The 2014 report will be released May 20, the institute said.

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