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Regional economic integration is key: premier

TAIPEI -- Speeding up the pace of regional economic integration is the key to Taiwan's economy remaining competitive, and ratifying the trade-in-services agreement with China is a case in point, Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Sunday.

Jiang made the comments as he and other ministers hiked up the 1,120-meter Qixing Mountain (Seven-Star Mountain) in the morning.

Asked how Taiwan would cope with the imminent signing of a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) between China and South Korea by the end of 2014, the premier said this could be a serious challenge to Taiwan's economic development in the future.

Since many of Taiwan's industrial exports are similar to those of South Korea, once it secures a FTA or tariff reduction with countries which Taiwan also exports to, Taiwan's main industrial exports would be impacted, he continued.

This is why the government has hurried to accelerate the pace of regional integration, mainly focusing on the ensuing agreements with China after the signing of the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in 2010, said Jiang.

To maintain Taiwan's competitiveness and not be left behind by South Korea, this is essential, including the Legislature's ratifying of the trade-in-service agreement, he concluded.

A Ministry of Economic Affairs study indicates that a China-Korea FTA would threaten about one-quarter of Taiwan's industrial exports to China-and estimated output value of US$40 billion.

As South Korea's FTA with China will also give it a leg up in Southeast Asian markets, whose importance to Taiwan is growing, it will pose a two-pronged threat to Taiwan's foreign trade competitiveness in China and in Southeast Asia.

On another subject, Jiang described recreation and exercise as being significant for officials to remain relaxed and rejuvenated.

The premier plans to climb on the 3,952-meter Yushan (Jade Mountain), Taiwan's highest peak, with officials in the future.

Jiang also said the Cabinet will make a public announcement as soon as candidates emerge for the vacancies of Education Minister and Hakka Affairs Council Minister.

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No plans for first lady to visit Japan exhibit: source
Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) stands at the peak of Qixing Mountain in Taipei, yesterday. During the climb the premier made statements in support of the trade-in-services agreement ...

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