Taiwan enterprises

"We think the best strategy for Taiwan is to actually go to the root of the problem. If the root of problem is mainland China, then we talk to mainland China," he said.

The president said that the whole idea of the proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China is not only to normalize economic relations between the two sides, but also to prevent Taiwan's marginalization in the process of regional economic integration.

Ma promised intensive communication on the issue with the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and those industries that might be affected by the ECFA.

He reiterated that the ECFA proposal is purely economic in nature and does not involve political issues.

"Rest assured… we don't have to be forced into making unnecessary and unpleasant concessions," he stated.

The president also said that he hopes the proposed ECFA will be discussed in the third round of talks between Taiwan and China, which are expected to be held in the first half of this year.

"Hopefully we will at least get a view of what they think. But so far their responses have been quite positive," he said.

Obviously, this is a place that holds a great future," the president told the guests at a luncheon hosted in Taipei by the global financial services firm Merrill Lynch and the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

The function was part of a three-day international conference titled "Taiwan, Technology & Beyond" that brought together some 400 fund managers and investment firm representatives from around the world.

Ma said that Taiwan enterprises continue to lead the global market in the manufacture of LCD panels, notebooks, mobile phones and numerous other information and communication technology (ICT) products and components.

Expressing great confidence in the Taiwan economy, the president said that his administration has put in place short-term and long-term strategies such as industrial reorientation, infrastructure upgrade and deregulation to counter the effects of the global financial crisis.

He said that the regional economic integration that is taking shape around the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) does not include Taiwan, mainly because China has tried everything possible to block Taiwan's efforts to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries.

According to Ma, Taiwan has maintained its status as the world's leading manufacturer in the information technology industry in the four years since the appearance of the Business Week magazine piece under the headline "Why Taiwan Matters? The global economy couldn't function without it." "It's time for you to think about Taiwan, if you have not.

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