Taipei, July 27 (CNA) A business leader urged participants at a national economic conference organized by Taiwan's government to focus discussion on Sunday on major issues, but his appeal had little impact on the lineup of speakers who represented diverse interests. On the second day of the three-day National Conference on Economic and Trade Affairs, the opinions brought up by some of the 140 participants seemed too varied to turn into concrete recommendations for the government's reference.
Chinese National Federation of Industries Chairman Hsu Sheng-hsiung, one of four conference hosts, expressed the hope early in Sunday's session that the proceedings be more focused. The conference was supposed to feature two main themes -- economic development strategies amid globalization; and regional economic and trade integration and cross-Taiwan Strait economic and trade promotion strategies. On the opening day of the conference, however, while delegates from around the country voiced their concerns over Taiwan's economic and trade development, the opinions covered too broad a range of topics to be practically applied, Hsu said. Despite the call, the issues brought up Sunday ranged from suggestions for the government to help small- and medium-size enterprises and actively pursue free trade agreements to appeals for measures to support start-ups of young entrepreneurs and assist with agricultural product processing. Yunlin County Economic Affairs Department Director Lin Chang-chao urged the government to maintain restrictions on imports of certain agricultural products, including 830 items from China, as it pursues regional economic and trade integration and free trade deals. Lo Ching-shui, head of the Youth Development Administration under the Ministry of Education, voiced his concern for issues related to education and helping young entrepreneurs start businesses. Representative of the electronics and medical equipment sectors, meanwhile, spelled out their hope that the government speed up negotiations and sign regional trade agreements to offset the potential blow from a planned South Korea-China free trade pact. South Korea, Taiwan's biggest competitor in the Chinese market, is expected to sign the free trade agreement with Beijing by the end of the year. In China's machinery market, for example, Taiwanese and South Korean vendors sell similar products that are currently subject to high import duties. But once a South Korea-China free trade pact takes effect, 800 machine products from Taiwan not given low-tariff treatment under the Taiwan-China Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement would be vulnerable to Korean competition, said Wang Cheng-ching, president of the Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry.
(By Huang Chiao-wen, Wei Shu and Elizabeth Hsu)