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European scholars urge EU to ink FTA with Taiwan

2012/11/15 18:22:32

Paris, Nov. 14 (CNA) Several European scholars called for a free trade agreement (FTA) between Taiwan and the European Union Wednesday at a one-day forum co-hosted by a major French think tank and Taiwan's representative office in Paris.

Most of them said an FTA between the EU and Taiwan would help boost bilateral trade.

The forum, titled "Trading Freely with East Asia," organized by the French Institute of International Relations and the Taipei Representative Office in Paris, was attended by around 100 participants from the French government and think tanks, as well as staff of various international organizations.

Among the scholars who urged the EU and Taiwan to sign an FTA were Patrick Messerlin, a professor of economics at Sciences Po (the Paris Institute of Political Studies), Raphael Leal-Arcas, a University of London commercial law professor, as well as Swedish economist Fredrik Erixon, who is also director of the European Centre for International Political Economy.

They all shared the view that a Taiwan-EU FTA could help stimulate economic growth and employment on both sides.

The topics of the discussions ranged from Europe's global development, the EU's experience in FTA negotiations, and the challenges and prospects of future FTAs -- the cases of Japan and Taiwan, to the potential economic effects of EU-Asia FTAs seen from the perspectives of businesses.

In addition to economic and trade benefits, economic collaboration deals between the two sides could also deepen their cultural exchanges, said Michel Lu, Taiwan's representative to France, in an opening speech.

The EU is currently Taiwan's fourth-largest trading partner behind China, Japan and the United States.

Taiwan's bilateral trade with the EU rose by an annual 8.1 percent last year to over US$52.5 billion, accounting for about 8.9 percent of Taiwan's total external trade, according to the Taiwan External Trade Development Council.

(By Tsai Hsiao-ying and Kendra Lin)
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