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June 24, 2017

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General Chamber of Commerce head lists ways to double GDP

TAIPEI--A local business leader on Thursday gave a list of 10 suggestions that he said will help Taiwan double its GDP, more than double wages, and put Taiwan ahead of other economies in the region.

Lai Cheng-i, president of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China, unveiled his policy suggestions during a ceremony to mark his inauguration and the installment of directors and supervisors to the business chamber.

The 10 guidelines are aimed at pushing liberalization and globalization to take advantage of Taiwan's geographic location.

They are, separately, casting a trade net over the region; expanding cash flows across the Asia-Pacific; dominance in aerial and maritime shipping; welcoming workers and investments; seeking out mutually beneficial trade deals; boosting exchanges with China; improving tourism and increasing foreign exchange amounts; branding; legal reforms; and doubling wages to invigorate the economy.

Lai, who chairs property developer Shining Group, noted that in 1992, Taiwan's per capita GDP passed the US$10,000 mark while South Korea's was US$7,000. But 22 years later, Taiwan's per capita GDP has just doubled to US$21,141, lower than South Korea's current US$25,051 and far below the levels seen in Hong Kong and Singapore, the other Asian Tigers.

He attributed the relatively slow growth in Taiwan to antagonism between political parties and an unwillingness to open economically to the world.

Taiwan is home to a number of prominent brands like Giant Bicycles, he said, and the chamber of commerce wants to push 100 "made-in Taiwan" brand names onto the world stage.

In the meantime, he said, the government should enact policies to open the market to skilled workers and funds from abroad.

The domestic market has been dwindling because of a low local birth rate and the 2 million Taiwanese who work in China each year, he said, a situation the government could correct by making reforms in immigration.

Lai's chamber of commerce consists of 1.42 million companies which contribute 76 percent of the nation's total GDP. Over 80 percent of these companies are in the services sector.

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