Thursday, September 14, 2017

Promoting New South Bound Policy through APEC

                                                                                                              Wayne Chen
     September 5, 2016, the New Southbound Policy (NSP) was officially launched by the Taiwanese government to strengthen ties with countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific through promoting cooperation across fields including agriculture, business, culture, education,new energy and technology. 18 countries were centered in NSP as potential strategic partners, namely the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, 6 nations in South Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The proposal of NSP reflects not only the fear of the increasing marginalization of Taiwan in regional economic integration of Asia-Pacific, but a profound diplomatic strategy of the newly elected administration in response to a more challenging cross-strait relations. Considering the objectives, proposed actions and desired outcomes of NSP, I argue that APECcan be a very useful platform where Taiwan has been actively participatingsince 1991 for achieving NSP.

A wide range of common issues attended by APEC and NSP
     NSP will be realized, as illustrated by the NSP Promotion Plan, through advancing the 4 main tasks, including economic collaboration, talent exchange, resources sharing, and regional links, which will contribute collectively to the achievement of a new sense of community and mutually beneficial ilateral relations. The wide range of areas for cooperation are not limited to conventional economic issues but extended to a broader horizon that crystalizes one of ambitious objectives of NSP that is to forge strategic partnership with target countries. Similarly, by following the 3 pillars of the APEC's agenda: Trade and Investment Liberalization; Business Facilitation; and, Economic and Technical Cooperation, APEC has developed initiatives across of the spectrum of works including the promotion of trade and investment as well as capacity building activities. The 4 main tasks of NSP are highly related to some overarching issues of APEC as identified in Table 1.

Table 1: Focus areas in common between NSP and APEC

NSP Main Tasks

Focus Areas

APEC Initiatives

APEC (sub) Fora

Promote Economic Collaboration

Supply Chains


Supply Chain Connectivity Action Plan

Committee on Trade and Investment

Supply Chain Connectivity Alliance

Committee on Trade and Investment

APEC Strategic Blueprint for promoting Global Value Chain Development and Cooperation

Committee on Trade and Investment

 Promoting SME’s Integration into Environmental Goods and Services (EGS) Global and Regional Markets 

Committee on Trade and Investment

APEC Services Competitiveness Roadmap (2016-2025)

Committee on Trade and Investment

Infrastructure Projects

APEC Connectivity Blueprint (2015-2025)

Senior Official Meeting/Finance Ministers’ Process

APEC Multi Year Plan on Infrastructure Development and Investment


Senior Official Meeting/Finance Ministers’ Process

Cebu Action Plan

Finance Ministers’ Process

Energy Smart Community Initiative

Energy Working Group

Market Access

Bogor Goals

Committee on Trade and Investment

Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform 2016-2020

Economic Committee

List of Environmental Goods

Committee on Trade and Investment


Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs

Senior Official Meeting

Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform 2016-2020

Economic Committee

The Innovation for Women and Economic. Development Multi-year Plan

Policy Partnership of Women and the Economy

APEC Women in STEM

Policy Partnership of Women and the Economy

APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap

Ad Hoc Steering Group on the Internet Economy

Digital Trade

Committee on Trade and Investment

Cross Border Privacy Rules System

Committee on Trade and Investment

Conduct Talent Exchange

Education Ties

Develop 21st Century Knowledge and Skills For All


Human Resource Development Working Group

APEC Women in STEM

Policy Partnership of Women and the Economy

APEC Scholarship

Senior Official Meeting

Industry Talent

APEC Skills Development Capacity Building Alliance

Human Resource Development Working Group

APEC Engineer

Youth Sustainable Water Resources Education and Development Hub in the APEC Region

New Immigrants

Enhance the Protection of Migrant Workers’ Rights

Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy for Migrant Workforce in the APEC Region

Emergency Preparedness Working Group

Share Resources

Health Care

Healthy Asia Pacific 2020

Health Working Group


Social Responsibility and Common Development on Mining

Mining Task Force

APEC Sustainable Forest Management

Forestry Ministerial Meeting/Expert Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade 


Travel Facilitation Initiative

Tourism Working Group/USA/Peru

Sustainable Tourism

Tourism Working Group


APEC PPSTI Strategic Plan 2016-2025

Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation


APEC Food Security Roadmap 2020

Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group/Policy Partnership on Food Security

Small and Medium Enterprises

Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs

ME Working Group

New Era of Growth for APEC SMEs through Online-to-Offline (O2O) Business Models

SME Working Group

SME Crisis Management Center

SME Working Group

Forge Regional Links

Regional Integration, Negotiations and Dialogue, Strategic Alliances, Overseas Taiwanese Networks

Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific

Committee on Trade and Investment

APEC Typhoon Center

Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation

APEC Emergency Preparedness Capacity Building Center

Emergency Preparedness Working Group
      NSP underscores the significance of cooperation on infrastructure, human resource development and welfare-related issues, such as health care, tourism, agriculture and SMEs. Furthermore, given that migrant workers and foreign spouses from NSP target countries are increasing rapidly, enhancing culture exchange and mutual understanding as well as engaging new immigrants in local communities are highlighted throughout NSP and APEC could be complement to aforementioned areas from a regional cooperationperspective.
     One very example is the APEC Connectivity Blueprint (2015-2025) which was launched in 2014. The Blueprint identifies three pillars, including physical connectivity which refers to infrastructure, people-to-people connectivity which emphasizes cross-border education collaboration and institutional connectivity which involves supply chains related issues, and APEC economies can review and advance regional connectivity accordingly. The Blueprint not only reflects NSP's work on economic collaboration, talent exchange, culture and tourism, but the consensus and active participation of APEC economies in these areas demonstrates great opportunities for Taiwan to build partnership for future actions.  

Leverage Taiwan’s Success in APEC for NSP Cooperation

     Most of the NSP target counties are developing economies and therefore capacity building are intensively attended in building strategic partnership compared to trade facilitation negotiations. In this light, Taiwan's signature initiatives developed within the APEC discourse can serve as convenient start points for future NSP cooperation. APEC Digital Opportunity Centers, for example, which aims to narrow digital divide have developed strong and far-reaching reputation of assisting youth, women and people in remote areas engage in business. Moreover, 9 of 18 NSP target countries are APEC members. As a result, Taiwan government may consider ways to leverage achievement and recourses of APEC to maximize the outcome of NSP.
(Wayne Chen is an Associate Research Fellow, TIER)   

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