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Taiwan calls for FTA with European Union

Taiwan Today, Taipei

Taiwan calls for FTA with European Union

8 July 2011

By Meg Chang

The European Union should consider signing a free trade agreement with Taiwan as “the EU’s Asian regional economic strategy will not be complete without Taiwan,” said Chen Ming-shy, deputy director-general of the Bureau of Foreign Trade July 6.

Chen made the remarks during a speech at the EU’s Trade Policy Review in Geneva. Taiwan is concerned that despite its close relationship with the EU, it is not yet included in the EU’s agenda for FTAs, he said.

The EU-South Korea FTA took effect July 1, and the EU is expected to conclude a similar pact with Singapore in August, Chen said. Meanwhile, negotiations are under way with Malaysia, and talks are set to begin with a number of other Asian nations in the near future, he added.

“Taiwan takes great interest in the EU’s investment issues, as the EU is the country’s leading source of foreign direct investment and fourth largest trading partner, with bilateral trade growing 31.4 percent in 2010 to US$4.86 billion,” he said.

The recent expansion of a Taiwan-EU automotive working group to include talks on technical barriers to trade represents solid progress toward strengthening regulatory cooperation, he pointed out.

Taiwan also hopes to be able to proceed with substantive cooperation on issues such as investment, customs and trade facilitation to move toward broader economic integration, Chen said.

The European Parliament favors closer cooperation, as shown by its May 11 resolution that strongly supports the signing of an EU-Taiwan economic cooperation agreement, Chen noted. “We look forward to a positive response from the EU Commission on this issue.”

In related news, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Liang Kuo-hsin made a similar call during his appearance at a European Parliamentary public hearing on EU-Taiwan trade relations June 30. Liang said Taiwan will continue its efforts to negotiate an FTA with the EU under the framework of the World Trade Organization. (THN)