Kaohsiung's Perspective After the "Statute Governing the Establishment and Management of Free Trade Ports" 高雄的遠景 在通過自由貿易港區設置及管理條例之後
Kaohsiung has become more beautiful! The landscapes along the Love River and the city's residential areas have been beautified and embellished. New cultural attractions such as Urban Spotlight, Great Plaza for Civic Art, Singuang Pier, Kaohsiung Flower Market, and Illuminant Bridge have caused people to look at Kaohsiung again with new eyes. The City Government's plan to turn Kaohsiung's airport and harbor into free trade ports will open up a new opportunity for developing Kaohsiung's economy to mark the age of globalization.
Along with its recent effort to beautify the environment, the City Government is embarking on plans to make Kaohsiung a better place for industrial operations. The Central Government has drawn up a construction program in which it plans to spend NT$500 billion over 5 years. More than NT$50 billion is allocated to major construction budgets in Kaohsiung: NT$21.5 billion for relocating the Red-Haired Harbor Village, NT$2.1 billion for the Kaohsiung MRT, NT$8 billion for Weiwuying National Theater. The construction program also includes the proposal of "Building Nansing Free Trade Port Area and Evaluating the Replacement of Hsiankang International Airport with Nansing Intercontinental Airport."
Mayor Frank Hsieh indicated that after the adoption of the "Statute Governing the Establishment and Management of Free Trade Ports," Kaohsiung will become the most liberalized city in the island with the greatest development potential. The City Government is planning to offer incentives for businesses to increase their competitiveness.
While people have always considered Kaohsiung to be a city of heavy industries, with the stinking and filthy Love and Cianjhen Rivers as well as poor air and water quality, however the city is in fact undergoing a dramatic transformation. The government has done a terrific job in beautifying and rehabilitating the Love and Cianjhen Rivers. Air and water quality has also been improved dramatically. Kaohsiung is now the only city on the island implementing post-ozonation sterilization. Drinking water has become palatable. As for the problem of air pollution, the government expects to reduce the poor air quality rate to 7% by 2004. This reduction will allow Kaohsiung to enjoy the same air quality as low-polluted cities like Penghu and Hualien.
The Central Government presented a policy to build up Kaohsiung and Taipei's competitive edge. The Kaohsiung City Government's policy also reflects its determination to fulfill this goal.
Mayor Hsieh brought up an idea of "New Maritime Silk Road". He pointed out that many Japanese and western enterprises invest in China because of its huge market. Foreign companies all want to be part of this trend; however, investing in China still includes many risks such as corruption, policy instability, and a poor legal system.
Taiwanese businessmen paid a huge price investing in China. Their foreign counterparts can avoid the same mistakes by building innovation, operation, and information centers in Taiwan. They can use China as a manufacturing base while the R&D and processing of high-end products stay in Taiwan. An ideal labor division model would be foreign investment and technology, Taiwanese innovation and operation, and Chinese production.
Given this division of labor, Taiwan would be able to fully merge into the global economy. Taiwan could take advantage of the current China fervor to raise its own visibility, thus reducing the risk of being marginalized. Once Taiwan becomes the center of the "New Maritime Silk Road", Kaohsiung's free trade ports will be extremely crucial. Capital, technology, labor, and merchandise from all over the world will have free access to Kaohsiung, a significant gateway to the Chinese market.
The passage of the "Statute Governing the Establishment and Management of Free Trade Ports" will enable both Taiwan and Kaohsiung to raise their status in the international economy. Real estate in Kaohsiung is comparatively cheaper than that of Taipei, a great advantage in attracting manufacturers to invest in Kaohsiung.
It is understood that the Council for Economic Planning and Development has positioned Kaohsiung as a "global operation and management center." Under this developmental guideline, Kaohsiung is expected to work out a "twin harbor" plan as well as programs to build free ports and operation centers.
Foreign experience shows that the building of free trade ports will increase a harbor's profits and foreign exchange revenues, attract investment, create jobs, facilitate technology transfer, and therefore energize the local economy. In the future, if Kaohsiung can learn from this experience and build a free port in Kaohsiung Harbor, more local enterprises will be willing to keep their businesses in Taiwan.
One of the advantages for Kaohsiung Harbor to become a free trade port lies in its mature port regulations. The free port will be subject to the existing Kaohsiung Harbor regulations in which Customs controls the movement of goods, vehicles and personnel. Also, the autonomous operators of the free trade port have to work closely with Customs. This kind of cooperation will strengthen the free trade port's role as the "Offshore Transshipment Center.
Taiwan High Speed Rail will begin to provide service in 2005.It's service will determine a city's destiny. Only competitive cities can attract people and investment. Mayor Hsieh hopes that all major construction programs will be completed by 2005, so that Kaohsiung will be able to remain competitive.
Taiwan's first free port will soon be built in Kaohsiung. Kaohsiung Harbor will open its door to goods from Southeast Asia and all over the world to transship here in Kaohsiung.
New Silk Road
Mayor Hsieh's "New Maritime Silk Road" concept, in which Taiwan is the medium for foreign trade to enter the Chinese market, will help Taiwan avoid being marginalized. Once foreign enterprises have their innovation and operation centers in Taiwan, Taiwan will be more secure, for our stability decides foreign trade's prosperity.
The "New Maritime Silk Road" concept is centered in Taiwan. The huge Chinese market attracts many overseas businesses. Since we cannot stop Taiwanese and international businesses from moving to China, we then have to reposition ourselves as the "gateway" to the Chinese market. If Japanese and western enterprises locate their innovation and operation centers in Taiwan, making the best of Taiwanese business talents before they advance to China, they are more likely to be profitable.
Under this concept, Kaohsiung plays an even more important role. The passage of the "Statute Governing the Establishment and Management of Free Trade Ports" will provide Kaohsiung with a competitive edge.
In recent years, Mayor Hsieh has launched many municipal plans in effect putting the "New Maritime Silk Road" concept into practice. The establishment of free trade ports in Kaohsiung will increase the city's competitiveness. The City Government expects to turn this industrial harbor into a new commerce and trade integration park. Establishing free trade ports is necessary to realize this goal. They are key to Kaohsiung's competitiveness and can prevent Kaohsiung from being marginalized in the current China fervor.