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New Southbound Policy bears fruit: official
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Taipei, May 4 (CNA) Since the government's New Southbound Policy came into force last year, Taiwan has seen significant growth in number of tourist arrivals and students from countries covered by the policy as well as a considerable increase in trading volume with those nations, Minister without Portfolio John Deng said on Thursday.

The policy is aimed at forging closer economic ties with the 10 nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations along with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Australia and New Zealand and reducing economic dependence on China.

The government has made great strides in many areas through the promotion of the policy, including enhancing mutual understanding between Taiwan and these countries of their importance to each other, Deng said while delivering a report on the execution of the New Southbound Policy at a regular Cabinet meeting.

The policy has borne fruit, Deng said, adding that from January and March, the number of tourists visiting Taiwan from the 18 designated countries totaled 513,457, up 33.26 percent from the same period last year, Deng said citing official statistics.

Taiwan's trade with these countries from June 2016 to March this year was US$77.87 billion, up 10.11 percent year-on-year, according to Deng.

In addition, Taiwan's public banks have set up additional branches and construction companies undertaken more projects in these countries during the period.

This school year, Taiwan also welcomed 31,531 students from the target countries, up 20 percent from the last school year.

In the future, the Ministry of Education aims to attract 5,000 students from Southeast Asia and India to study or participate in internship programs in Taiwan, Deng said, adding that the government also plans to promote exports of medical devices developed in Taiwan to these countries, while enhancing agricultural cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.

Taiwan is currently focusing its efforts on strengthening cooperation with Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and India, according to Deng.