New Southbound Policy pays handsome trade, education dividends

Taiwan’s trade and foreign student numbers are on the rise as a result of public and private sector initiatives carried out in line with President Tsai Ing-wen’s New Southbound Policy, according to the Office of Trade Negotiations under the Executive Yuan.

One of the key components of Tsai’s national development strategy, the peoplecentric policy seeks to deepen agricultural, business, cultural, education, trade and tourism links with the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, and Australia and New Zealand.
The office, which is responsible for the policy’s general planning and coordination, said Jan. 13 that Ministry of Finance statistics show exports to the 18 countries covered surged 20.1 percent year on year to US$5.37 billion in December 2016—the third consecutive month of double-digit growth. The result is significant given that Taiwan’s overall exports increased 14 percent in the same period.
The office largely attributed the strong showing to local firms embracing the policy and upping efforts to expand their business activities and profiles in related markets.
In terms of talent exchanges, Ministry of Education statistics reveal a total of 29,145 youths from the countries covered by the policy are enrolled in Taiwan tertiary institutions, up 2.1 percent from the year before.
The number of students from ASEAN member states also increased 1.9 percent from the previous year, with Malaysia leading the way at 47.5 percent of the total. It is followed by Indonesia and Vietnam at 17.1 percent and 16.3 percent, respectively. At the same time, the number of students from the six South Asian countries increased 12.4 percent to 1,443, of which 1,309 came from India.
According to the office, this year the government will allocate additional resources toward various trade promotion measures aimed at strengthening the marketing capabilities of local firms and assisting them identify business partners in the countries covered by the policy. This support extends to providing more scholarships for students from the countries and staging trade and education fairs in major ASEAN cities.
The policy has also boosted people-to-people exchanges between Taiwan and the countries, the office said. Statistics produced by the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications show that during the first 11 months of 2016, tourist arrivals from the markets jumped 13.6 percent to 1.53 million, a trend in keeping with the annual forecast of 1.55 million. (SFC-E)
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