Asian political leaders attend Taiwan’s first regional dialogue platform

Former Vice President of the Philippines describes the relations of the two countries as close as “brothers”

The photo shows H.E. Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr., former Vice President of the Philippines

The photo shows H.E. Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr., former Vice President of the Philippines (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Taiwan is holding its first regional dialogue platform set up to foster cooperation among Southeast Asian countries and to spark innovation. The Yushan Forum, the largest of its kind in the country, was attended by former vice presidents of the Philippines, a former deputy prime minister of South Korea, former ministers of Japan and other retired high-level officials from Southeast Asian nations.

As part of the country’s initiative to expand further economic engagement with countries under the New Southbound Policy, the forum will be held on a regular basis. This year, leaders from public and private sectors in Southeast Asia gathered at the Hyatt Hotel in Taipei on Wednesday and are scheduled to exchange their views on trade, human resources, technology and innovation.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in her opening remarks that the New Southbound Policy does not come at the expense of the RCEP, One Belt One Road, and India and Japan’s Freedom Corridor, but is designed to complement the existing regional initiatives.

Tsai calculated the achievements under the New Southbound Policy such as a big leap of tourist numbers from SE nations by 36.7 percent, the growth of trade by 20 percent and the increase of students coming to study in Taiwan by 10 percent, laying a good foundation for further collaboration.

Tsai also touted “five commitments" in her speech. The commitments, she said, are to identify needs and develop solutions for neighboring countries to achieve regional prosperity. The commitments will be carried out through education, knowledge-sharing in public and private sectors, direct infrastructure investment, and job creations in SE markets.

Two former vice presidents of the Philippines, H.E. Teofilo TiTo Guingona Jr. and Jejomar C. Binay, were invited to deliver speeches at the forum. Guingona Jr. described the Philippines and Taiwan as “like brothers” and should help each other to boost their economy, with the former capable of providing skilled labor and low entry cost for Taiwanese businesses to do trade with Europe and the United States.

He encouraged Taiwanese manufacturers to establish plants in the Philippines and source local resources to produce products for export to countries where Filipino products enjoy zero duty or low tariff treatments.