|Taiwan's 'president' Ma Ying-jeou attends a ceremony to launch the new Science and Technology Ministry in Taipei on March 3, 2014. (Photo / AFP)|
TAIPEI - Taiwan 'president' Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that Taiwan is far behind South Korea and Singapore when it came to signing of free trade agreements, but by completing the Cross-strait trade in services and goods agreements, Taiwan can get much closer to catching up, given that the Chinese mainland is Taiwan's largest trading partner.
Ma, who doubles as Kuomintang (KMT) chairman, made the comments during the ruling party's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting in which National Development Council 'minister' Kuan Chung-ming gave a report on the nation's economic circumstances in comparison with other countries.
After hearing Kuan's report, Ma said that although Taiwan signed free trade agreements with other countries prior to 2008, the year the KMT returned to power, none of these countries were Taiwan's major trading partners, accounting for only 0.15 per cent of the island's trade.
The president added that after he took office, the administration began exploring FTAs with the island's major trading partners, which has gradually led to concrete results.
However, compared to South Korea and Singapore, Taiwan is still lagging far behind, and it will take time before the island can catch up, Ma said.
The first step would be completing the trade in services and goods agreements with the Chinese mainland, the 'president' said. “Once this is accomplished, we will have moved much closer to catching up.”
In terms of GDP (nominal) per capita, between 2008 and 2013 Taiwan ranked second among the Four Asian Tigers, but if purchasing power parity is taken into account, Taiwan took first place in the same period of time, the 'president' said.
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