TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The number of people from “New Southbound” countries residing in Taiwan has increased by 60 percent since 2016, according to the Executive Yuan’s Office of Trade Negotiations.
The office said on Thursday afternoon (May 23) that the government’s efforts in promoting ties with countries engaged with Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP) initiative had come to fruition.
Trade between Taiwan and NSP countries in 2018 amounted to US$1,171 billion, the office said, a 22 percent increase over 2016. Investment in Taiwan from NSP country-based companies reached US$3.92 billion in 2018, a 66 percent increase over 2016’s US$2.36 billion.
Taiwan hosted 32,318 exchange and research students from NSP countries last year, the office said, 60.8 percent more than in 2016. Additionally, the number of tourists from NSP countries increased by 60 percent over the two-year period, from 91,000 to 144,000.
Head of the Office of Trade Negotiations John Deng (鄧振中) said during a press conference Thursday afternoon that the government’s New Southbound policies on studying, tourism, agricultural cooperation and in other fields had come to bear fruit.
Deng said he hopes similar progress can soon be made in the fields of health and hygiene, following some comprehensive investment plans. The government hopes to soon have such plans underway, he added.
Six countries were originally incorporated into the “One Country, One Center” plan, said Deng, but Myanmar was also included after evaluations showed positive results.
One Country, One Center was initiated in 2018 to improve the healthcare systems of partner countries via medical management and skills exchange.
Deng was questioned during the conference on statistics that showed Taiwanese exports to News Southbound countries had decreased by 10.9 percent in the first quarter of 2018.
The minister remarked that although exports had temporarily slowed, trade statistics must be viewed with a wider lens.
The international situation is undergoing a radical shift, he said, but New Southbound countries will continue to seek Taiwanese exports more and more.
In response to questions about Taiwan’s pending investment agreement with Vietnam, Deng said Vietnam hosts investments from many Taiwanese businesses, so establishing an agreement is vital. Although it is yet to be ratified, he said, progress on the agreement is steady.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who was present at the conference, said the international situation has shifted since the U.S.-China trade conflict began. The NSP not only effectively responds to changing economic structures and prospects in Asia, he said, but opens up the potential for even more cooperation between countries.