Taiwan Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) has pitched the Democratic Progressive Party’s approach to ensuring Taiwan’s “resilience” in the face of a range of global challenges, including the U.S-China trade conflict, the once in a hundred years pandemic, the Russian war in Ukraine, and the intensification of climate change.
Chen’s proposed responses at a forum in Taipei on Monday came in four interlinking areas: Enhancing the role of Taiwan’s industry in global supply chains while ensuring internal economic growth; actively collaborating with “like-minded” partners to build a resilient supply chain system; building a “social resilience” against an aging population with a low birth rate; and working to combat climate change.
On enhancing Taiwan’s role in global supply chains, Chen said Taiwan’s government was making every effort to integrate and secure a key position. He noted that in terms of industrial innovation and transformation, his government has been promoting six core strategic industries: information and digital industries; cyber security; precision health; national defense and strategy; green and renewable energy industries; and strategic stockpile industries.
Listing results so far, he highlighted that last year the amount of overseas Taiwanese and foreign investment in Taiwan exceeded $13.3 billion, 78% over the previous year. He said this was the “clearest possible proof that international investors have a high degree of confidence in Taiwan.”
Turning to collaboration with partners, he began by noting that Taiwan had sought to reduce overreliance on any one market — likely pointing toward China. He then said it had strengthened trade ties with the U.S. through collaboration in key industries such as semiconductors, 5G and electric vehicles.
Dialogue has been conducted through mechanisms such as the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and the U.S.-Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue, he said.
On top of this, Chen highlighted increasing attempts at cooperation with European countries, including Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and other Central and Eastern European countries that share values of freedom, democracy and human rights. He also said Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy would help promote economic trade and industrial cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), South Asia, New Zealand, Australia and others.
Chen then spoke about the threat of Taiwan’s aging population and low birth rate. He said the government had actively strengthened childcare services, promoting policies to support families to raise children from birth to the age of 6. Measures to counter the fall in fertility have seen their funding increased from 15 billion New Taiwan dollars (NTD) in 2016 (around 490 million USD) to over 100 billion NTD (around 3.2 billion USD) this year, he added. As childcare subsidies have increased, the aim is to create an environment in which young people are more willing to have children, he said.
At the same time, Chen noted that the government was aiming to create more family friendly workplace conditions, with a better balance between work and family. They want to encourage women to take up jobs and increase the female labor participation rate, he said.
Finally, he noted the role of immigration. The government Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals has “substantially liberalized work and residence regulations for professionals and optimized related taxation, social security and other benefits. Since this act, the number of foreign professionals employed in Taiwan had risen above 54,000 by the end of March this year, he said.
At the same time as this, the government has also launched an initiative with a target of aiding 400,000 foreign professionals and mid-skilled technicians to be added to Taiwan’s workforce between 2021 and 2030, he said. Part of this plan involves long-term retention of experienced migrant workers who qualify to be classified as mid-skilled.
Ending on climate change mitigation, Chen said Taiwan was focused on ensuring a just transition, within its goal of reaching net zero for carbon emissions by 2050. He noted that Taiwan’s Pathway to Net-Zero Emissions in 2050 had committed the goal to law and that the government was currently working “hand in hand” with industry associations, under a “large leading small model.” State-owned enterprises would lead the way, he said.
Highlighting existing investment in renewable energy, he said that last year 8% of total annual electricity production came from renewables.
Premier Chen was speaking at the Center for Asia-Pacific Resilience and Innovation 2023 Annual Forum