The new southbound policy does not run counter to improving trade relations with China and the two can even be complementary, James Huang, the head of the New Southbound Policy Office under the Presidential Office, said.
It is also possible that Taiwan and China could cooperate in Southeast Asia, he said at an international seminar in Taipei on ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) economic integration. China has engaged in many infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia, while Taiwan is strong in small and medium-sized enterprises, quality agriculture and the service industry, and the two sides can work together on boosting development in ASEAN countries, he said.
Unlike Taiwan's previous "Go South" policy in the 1990s that focused on the idea of "cost down," the new southbound policy under the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen is based on a "two-way" idea, Huang said. "It's not only we are going there. We will also encourage them to come here," he said. Central to the new southbound policy is an idea of "value up," Huang said, with Taiwanese companies in manufacturing, services, agriculture and e-commerce entering Southeast Asian countries with the goal of upgrading their industrial value chains.
In response to the policy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is moving toward making it easier for people from Southeast Asia to visit Taiwan and working to attract more students from Southeast Asia to study in Taiwan, said Vice Foreign Minister Lee Chen-jan at the seminar.
Separately, Vice Economics Minister Yang Wei-fuu said on the sidelines of the APEC O2O Summit 2016 on Tuesday that Taiwan sent a delegation to Vietnam and Thailand last week to promote its new southbound policy. (By Tsai Yi-chu, Huang Chiao-wen and Elaine Hou)