Premier Lai Ching-te attended a roundtable meeting for Taiwanese entrepreneurs today, saying the economy improved last year in many ways thanks to the hard work of people across the country. He encouraged businesses to continue partnering with the government in growing the economy and building an environment of peace and prosperity for all.

Taiwan’s economy grew nearly 2.6 percent in 2017, the premier said, outpacing growth from the year before. In December, the unemployment rate dropped to around 3.6 percent while imports and exports rose noticeably compared with the same period in previous years. And according to surveys by various job banks, nearly half the companies in Taiwan raised salaries following the government’s move to grant a 3-percent pay raise in the public sector.

The government’s foremost agenda is to boost the economy, Premier Lai emphasized. When President Tsai Ing-wen took office, she advocated new economic policies for making Taiwan stronger. First, the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program will meet Taiwan’s infrastructure needs for the next generation. The expansion in government expenditures will spur private spending and further boost the economy.

Second, the “five plus two” innovative industries policy brings seven designated industries under special Executive Yuan oversight in order to transform Taiwan’s economic structure. Third, the New Southbound Policy to court South and Southeast Asian countries coincides with the “Indo-Pacific” strategy espoused by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump. As seen from last year’s results, Taiwan’s bilateral trade with Southbound countries continued to expand, while the number of tourist arrivals to Taiwan broke the 10 million mark.

In efforts to drum up investments in Taiwan, the premier has called a series of interministerial meetings to remove the hurdles that stymie potential investors. Addressing shortages of land, water, electricity, labor and experienced personnel, the meetings took stock of all issues and systematically formed concrete strategies.

The premier also thanked the Legislature for passing amendments to the Labor Standards Act that will provide the labor market with greater flexibility. These standards align with those in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations by protecting the rights of workers while maintaining flexibility.