Such an undertaking, which forms the backbone of the government's economic policymaking, has been championed by President Ma Ying-jeou since he took office in May 2008. It has already paid lucrative dividends for Taiwan in the form of the landmark Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), as well as the arrangement on investment liberalization, promotion and protection with Japan.
Yet, even more progress in this vital area is expected to be chalked up going forward. The government is negotiating economic cooperation agreements with Singapore and New Zealand, with other countries seriously considering the merits of entering into similar pacts with Taiwan, including India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
In promoting Taiwan's credentials as a committed free-trader, the government is sending a strong message that participation for the nation in regional economic integration is a win-win situation. This healthy state of affairs is further underscored by Taiwan's important role in the global supply chain for information communications technology products, one that continues growing as local firms expand investment in mainland Chinese and Southeast Asian manufacturing operations.
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