Monday, July 29, 2013

Inching towards institutional ties

* Former Taiwan Premier and chairman of the opposition DPP, Frank Hsieh, lead a delegation of 29 scholars and business leaders to Hong Kong during June 28-July 2 for a seminar on cross-Strait relations.

* Jointly organized by Hsieh’s Taiwan Reform Foundation (TRF) and the Taiwan Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, this two-day seminar was generally viewed as the first institutional exchange between Beijing and Taiwan’s largest opposition political party—the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

* It also helps to affirm TRF’s role as the first political organization in Taiwan, outside the pan-Blue camp, that has been recognized by Beijing as a potential “working partner.” 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Taiwan’s jobless rate drops to a five-year low

* In a mild but pleasant surprise, Taiwan's unemployment rate declined slightly in May to its lowest level in nearly five years. According to the Cabinet’s Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS), the island’s jobless rate in May was 4.06 percent, 0.01 percentage points lower than the level in April.

* It was also the same as that recorded in July 2008, which was almost five years ago. 
On a seasonally adjusted basis, however, the unemployment rate for May remained unchanged from April at 4.19 percent. In the first five months of the year, Taiwan’s overall unemployment rate stood at 4.18 percent.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Controversy erupts after the signing of cross-Strait service trade pact

l  After two years of negotiations, cross-Strait service trade pact between China and Taiwan was signed on June 21 in Shanghai, China.

l  Though the extent of market openness was markedly below original projections, a controversy erupted in Taiwan over: (1) poor government-business consultation prior to the signing, (2) lack of dialogue between political parties and also between government branches, and (3) insufficient “safety net” over the pact’s likely impact.

l  The Ma administration was clearly caught off-guard, which could make the subsequent ratification process in Taiwan's Legislative Yuan (LY) problematic.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Next up:the establishment of cross-Strait liaison offices

* Following the signing of the cross-Strait service trade pact on June 21, 2013, the attention now shifts onto the establishment of liaison offices on the other side.

* Though both sides would like to conclude negotiations and have the offices operational by yearend, it does not appear particularly encouraging since: (1) sensitive issues concerning jurisdiction have yet to be addressed, and (2) Taiwan’s legislative process could cause unexpected delays.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Taiwan’s world competitiveness rankings declining

* According to the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management and Development (IMD), Taiwan was ranked 11th in the 2013 global competitiveness ranking. It was a five-notch drop from 2012. Taiwan’s decline in competitiveness was primarily because of the island’s weak domestic economy and a listless job market. Meanwhile, Taiwan remained in third place in Asia-Pacific for the third consecutive year—behind only Honk Kong and Singapore.

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