ASEAN now Taiwan's second-largest export market

The Republic of China's Ministry of Economic Affairs has asked Taiwan's businesses to "wait patiently" for the signing of economic cooperation pacts with South East Asian countries.

In a meeting with Taiwanese businesses operating in the Philippines, the Minister of Economic Affairs, Shih Yen-shiang, said there are more than 8,000 items being discussed in follow-up trade negotiations with the Peoples Republic of China and substantive talks are also being held with Singapore, making it hard to give the necessary attention to members of ASEAN.

The minister said, however, that the ASEAN was an area with which Taiwan needed to forge a free-trade or economic cooperation agreement. The economic bloc, which comprises more than 500 million people, is now Taiwan’s second-largest export market. It buys 16% of all of the country’s exports, second only to China’s 41%, the Taipei Times reported.