Taiwan’s achievements during 2016 APEC Economic Leaders' Week

  • Date: 2016-12-08

I. Background

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, founded in 1989, is the most important multilateral economic and trade organization in the Asia-Pacific region. Since joining APEC in 1991, Taiwan has played an active role in the forum’s meetings, activities and initiatives to enhance interaction and exchanges with forum members, and establish a positive international image through professional, active participation.

President Tsai Ing-wen invited Mr. James Soong to lead a delegation as her representative to the 2016 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, held on November 19 and 20 in Lima, Peru. During the course of the meetings, Mr. Soong communicated with the leaders of other member economies and shared Taiwan’s economic development experiences and ideas, highlighting the nation’s substantive bilateral and multilateral cooperation efforts. This year’s APEC Leaders’ Declaration also included many of Taiwan’s initiatives, affirming the nation’s contributions in the fields of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), food security, women and the economy, human development, water resources and energy.

 

II. Sharing experiences and seeking cooperation through multilateral interaction

APEC is an important forum for Taiwan’s participation in the international community, and as the Taiwan representative, Mr. Soong took part in seven meetings, three banquets, and two important interviews. In both bilateral and multilateral settings, he exchanged opinions with leaders from other countries about the global economy, highlighting Taiwan’s continuing efforts to liberalize trade and investment and determination to participate in regional economic integration. Mr. Soong also took this opportunity to learn how other economies are addressing challenges stemming from the deceleration of economic development, while sharing Taiwan’s economic restructuring experiences and seeking mutual opportunities for cooperation.

 

III. Taiwans initiatives included in APEC Leaders Declaration

The main theme of this year’s APEC meeting was Quality Growth and Human Development, with four thematic priorities:

  • Regional Economic Integration and Quality Growth
  • Enhancing the Regional Food Market
  • Towards the Modernization of Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises in the Asia-Pacific
  • Developing Human Capital

Eleven sections of this year’s Leaders’ Declaration were also relevant to Taiwan, recognizing the nation’s contributions in the fields of SMEs, food security, women and the economy, human development, water resources and energy.

A. Initiatives reflect topical trends and Taiwan’s expertise

1. Taiwan has always been active in APEC human resource initiatives, including promotion of the APEC Skills Development Capacity Building Alliance and the APEC Skills Development Capacity Building Center established in Taiwan.

2. Initiatives proposed by Taiwan this year included “New Era of Growth for APEC SMEs through Online-to-Offline (O2O) Business Models” and “Advancing Big Data Applications in Trade” to help increase SME and micro-enterprise competitiveness. In keeping with the APEC Education Ministerial Meeting Joint Statement initiatives to upgrade skills and enhance employability, Taiwan will continue to promote relevant programs and encourage entrepreneurship among young people.

B. Create opportunities for economic development by showing the benefits of Taiwans participation in the international community

In addition to Taiwan’s efforts and contributions to human development and the MSME programs mentioned above, the nation has also proposed many important international initiatives under the APEC framework including the “Digital Opportunity Center” program that has effectively bridged the digital divide. Taiwan has also taken part in the progress assessment process for the Bogor Goals, demonstrating the nation’s firm resolve to continue promoting trade and investment liberalization, while encouraging women to use information and communications technology (ICT) to spur greater economic participation through “Innovation for Women and Economic Development: Facilitating Women's Livelihood Development and Resilience with ICTs” activities. Having shown the determination and capacity to participate in the international community, Taiwan hopes these efforts will also create opportunities for economic development.

 

IV. Taiwan-U.S. joint initiative: APEC Women and the Economy Sub-Fund

APEC members are well aware that the pursuit of sustainable economic growth requires investing in human capital, and have taken a people-centered approach to enhance skills and innovative entrepreneurial capabilities, increase economic participation of women, young people and the physically challenged, and cultivate human resources for the 21st century.

With those goals in mind, Taiwan representative James Soong and U.S. Secretary State John Kerry announced the joint founding of the APEC Women and the Economy Sub-Fund during this year’s APEC meeting. Made possible by a high level of mutual trust between Taiwan and the U.S., this initiative shows Taiwan taking concrete action to support the economic empowerment of women, highlighting the nation’s meaningful participation in and contribution to the international community. It also highlights the strength of Taiwan’s partnership with the U.S. under the APEC framework, and the government hopes this cooperative effort to promote participation in the economy will give women a larger role in the nation’s economic development.

 

V. Continue to interact and cooperate under the APEC framework to facilitate diplomacy and increase Taiwans global visibility

A. Next year’s host country, Vietnam, has designated food safety and climate change as key themes for the 2017 APEC meetings. Back in 2013, Taiwan also voiced concern about food supplies, proposing a multi-year plan that successfully strengthened public-private partnerships to reduce food losses. Based on that success, Taiwan will work with other members to promote APEC’s food-related programs, and address one of the challenges of climate change by establishing a food system for the Asia-Pacific region to guarantee food safety and realize the goals of APEC’s Food Security Road Map Towards 2020.

B. Taiwan will also work with the other forum members to promote the APEC Services Competitiveness Roadmap, and hopes to participate in the APEC Cross Border Privacy Rules system to protect consumer privacy and promote the development of e-commerce. Next year Taiwan will also propose phase two of the APEC SME online-to-offline business model application initiative to help those enterprises increase competitiveness to expand overseas sales.

 

VI. Conclusion

APEC is an important international forum where Taiwan can actively participate in international exchanges and cooperation and make a substantive contribution. Working together to promote APEC initiatives and programs creates cooperative ties between forum members, forging relationships that can lead to opportunities for Taiwan while contributing to regional and global peace and economic development.