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FEPZ program a 'sharp weapon' in competition with China: NDC

TAIPEI -- The National Development Council (NDC, 國家發展委員會) minister defended a government plan to open Free Economic Pilot Zones (FEPZs) to attract international investment, calling such facilities a “sharp weapon” in the competition with China.

Any attempts to obstruct the plan will “render the mainland enormous help,” Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) said in a radio interview, referring to some opponents' concern that the FEPZs will become a back door enabling Chinese enterprises to enter Taiwan without restrictions.

Taiwan must adopt approaches of globalization and liberalization, and the FEPZ plan is part of the government's efforts in this regard, Kuan said.

The government, however, faces time pressure in pushing the zones into operation because China has already begun a plan to set up a free trade experimental zone in Shanghai.

Once Beijing loosens its laws and regulations to make way for free trade, Kuan said, he fears that foreign investment will bypass Taiwan and flow directly into China.

FEPZs are the weapon Taiwan needs to compete with China in attracting international funds, he said, noting that foreign investors will only go to places that welcome them.

According to the National Development Council, the FEPZs will serve as test beds for regulatory loosening that will facilitate the movement of personnel, goods and technology.

The initiative is particularly targeted at injecting vitality into domestic industries, optimizing their competitive strengths, providing global value-added services and helping achieve the government's goal of participating in regional economic and trade integration, the council said.

To provide the legal basis for the establishment and operation of the FEPZs, the government has drafted a special act scheduled to be reviewed at a joint committee meeting at the Legislature the following day.

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