Tsai Ing-wen: New Southbound Policy starting to bear fruit

The initiative is starting to produce positive results, says President Tsai

Tsai Ing-wen at the 2018 Yushan Forum

Tsai Ing-wen at the 2018 Yushan Forum (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — During a speech at the opening of the Yushan Forum on Oct. 11, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen expressed joy at the increase in trade, investment, tourism, and the social and cultural exchanges between Taiwan and its New Southbound countries.

The New Southbound Policy has been a cornerstone of Tsai’s administration so far. Its primary goal is to strengthen Taiwan’s relations with neighboring countries in South East Asia and reduce the nation’s reliance on a single Chinese market.

The president observed that trade between Taiwan and New Southbound countries increased by over 15% last year, with Taiwanese investment in New Southbound countries increasing by 45%.

Taiwan welcomed over 41,000 students from New Southbound countries in the first half of the year, Tsai noted. Moreover, the government plans to increase this number to 48,000 next year. The president was keen to add that the number of Taiwanese students choosing to study in New Southbound countries increased by 20% last year.

But Taiwan is not merely a trading and investment partner to these countries, Tsai added, and seeks to establish long term partnerships to encourage mutual prosperity. The President hopes Taiwan can share its experience and knowledge in agriculture and public health, as well as its communication technology capabilities, to help improve the lives of those within its partner countries.

Achieving global Sustainable Development Goals has been a key focus for the Tsai administration this year, and reiterating an appeal made by Vice President Chen Chien-jen on Oct. 8, Tsai called for closer cooperation between all New Southbound countries for a cleaner and greener future.

The president lauded the Yushan Forum as a platform for encouraging innovation and progressive values, as well as a place for facilitating interaction between Taiwan and its regional partners in accordance with the New Southbound Policy. She expressed hope that the distinguished guests of this year's forum could provide insight into how the regional countries can work together to create a stable, sustainable, and prosperous future.

Tsai closed her address by citing a remark made by former Philippine Vice President, Teofisto Guingona, at last year’s forum: “We help each other. The Philippines to help Taiwan, and Taiwan to help the Philippines.” She said the quote embodied the spirit of both the Yushan Forum and New Southbound Policy.