2014 is year for Taiwan's economic breakthrough: Ma

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou.

TAIPEI - President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that 2014 is the year for Taiwan to make an economic breakthrough, and that the island is hoping to take a greater part in regional economic integration and contribute to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. Ma made the comments at the Fulbright Research Workshop in Taipei.

The president said that Taiwan's national security strategy is three-layered, with the first layer being the institutionalization of cross-strait resolution, the second layer being the fulfillment of the island's roles as peacemaker, humanitarian aid provider and creator of new technologies and business opportunities, and the third layer being the combination of national defence and diplomacy.

By using these strategies, Taiwan not only strengthens its security but also contributes to peace and stability across the region, the president added.

On Feb. 11, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi led a delegation to mainland China and met his Beijing-based counterpart, Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun, marking the first time that officials in charge of cross-strait affairs from both sides have met in an official context, referring to one another by their formal titles, since 1949 when the two sides began to be separately governed, Ma said.

The event signifies a further step closer toward the institutionalization of cross-strait resolution and also highlights the administration's determination to push for regional peace, Ma said.

In order to open up Taiwan's market, the administration signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement four years ago with mainland China, the island's largest trading partner; afterward, it signed an investment agreement with Japan, the island's second largest trading partner, whereas in March 2013, the government resumed talks with the US, Taiwan's third largest trading partner, under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, Ma said, adding that in July and November last year, the administration inked economic cooperation agreements with New Zealand and Singapore.

Domestically, the administration is accelerating its establishment of the Free Economic Pilot Zones in order to display its determination to loosen regulations and open up the island's market, Ma said.

Meanwhile, the government is also actively seeking to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in order to create substantial economic benefits for the island by speeding up its involvement in regional economic integration, Ma said.