Dear chairlady, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is indeed an honor for me to appear before you this morning to officially welcome all of you to Taipei and the APEC Health Task Force First Meeting. I am extremely delighted to know that most of the APEC economies have sent representatives to attend this important meeting. For those APEC members who are not here, I hope that you would let them know of the major points raised in these two days. I am sure the hosting committee has made every effort to make your stay here a pleasant and productive one.
The emergence of SARS and avian flu in the Asia-Pacific region makes us aware that APEC economies must cooperate closely and rapidly to fight these health threats. These infectious diseases not only have significant effect on people's health, but also have impacted agriculture, tourism, airline business, all kinds of business, and trade, to name a few. As we already know that last spring in Singapore, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei, we all have negative economic growth due to the SARS attack. So health issue is highly related to the economic development. Because of APEC's effectiveness in addressing challenges facing the Asia-Pacific region, the Health Task Force has been created immediately to tackle health problems facing APEC members. After going through the terms of reference for the Health Task Force, I can see that substantial efforts have been put into organizing the task force. Furthermore, I am greatly impressed with the comprehensiveness and depth of the objectives that the task force will seek to achieve. There will always exist health challenges to APEC members. This means that the Health Task Force has plenty of work to do in the years to come. I am certain that the strong APEC spirit of cooperation will once again manifest itself in the Health Task Force, so that no task will be considered impossible to finish. Finally, under the guidance of our capable Chairlady, Dr. Melinda Moore, the APEC Health Task Force will surely meet the expectations of our Economic Leaders.
In closing, I wish all of you a fruitful meeting and an enjoyable stay in Taipei. Most importantly, I look forward to your recommendations for addressing the health challenges facing our region and let's make the people in this region have a healthy and more prosperous life to live. Thank you very much.