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Taiwan keen on free trade

The Star, Malaysia

Taiwan keen on free trade

By Nick Leong

28 August 2006

TAIPEI : Taiwan is eager to enter into a free trade agreement (FTA) with Malaysia, according to its vice-president Annette Lu Hsiu-lien.

She said an agreement would enhance bilateral ties, adding that Taiwan was one of Malaysia’s largest trading partners.

“We hope to sign an FTA with Malaysia. Taiwan has recently signed FTAs with Central American countries Panama and Guatemala, and we are in negotiation with El Salvador.

“We have the potential to be bigger trading partners. I hope to take this opportunity to urge Malaysia to consider this proposal,” she said told StarBiz in Taipei. Malaysia is Taiwan’s second largest trading partner in Asean after Singapore. Two-way trade between Malaysia and Taiwan amounted to US$9.5bil in 2004, up from US$7.8 billion the previous year.

Taiwanese exports to Malaysia in 2004 hit US$4.07bil, while imports amounted to US$5.41bil.

Lu said Taiwan could assist Malaysia in developing the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

She said Taiwan had 17 ICT products that were top ranked in the world. Lu said Taiwan also hoped Malaysia could relax the restrictions on Taiwan tourists to Malaysia, noting that Malaysian tourists did not need visa for a 30-day stay on the island.

“I sincerely hope Malaysia will allow people from Taiwan to visit your country without a visa. A few years ago, an average of about 200,000 Taiwanese go to Malaysia for holidays per year but the number has dwindled due to the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak. Annually, some eight million Taiwanese go abroad for holidays. I am sure more Taiwanese will go to Malaysia if they do not need to get a visa. Our people like to travel a lot and Malaysia is close to Taiwan,” she said. Lu said Taiwan was promoting the Democratic Pacific Union (DPU), an organisation of countries located close to the Pacific Ocean.

The Pacific Ocean had a lot of economic potential although countries preferred to look at land development.

“The DPU is new, having been inaugurated in 2005, but it is a vibrant and dynamic organisation stressing on the advancement of democracy, human rights, peace and security, and economic cooperation,” she said.