CORONAVIRUS/German companies in Taiwan troubled by travel bans: survey

07/06/2020 10:12 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, July 6 (CNA) An overwhelming majority of German companies operating in Taiwan consider travel restrictions between Taiwan and the European Union harmful to their businesses, a survey by the global network of the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHK) has found.

Among the surveys of AHK's 140 locations in 92 countries from June 15 to 26, the one targeting Taiwan found 90.5 percent of respondents citing travel restrictions as the biggest burden on their operations, the German Trade Office Taipei said Monday.

Moreover, 70 percent of respondents perceived the bans as a major challenge for Taiwan's economic recovery, the office said in a press release.

"It was with great regret that we have learned about the decision of the European Union not to add Taiwan to the list of safe travel destinations," said Axel Limberg, chief representative and executive director of the office.

Limberg was referring to Taiwan's exclusion from the countries exempted from the EU's COVID-19 travel ban starting July 1, which included Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Thailand from the Asia-Pacific region.

That exclusion may have been due in part to a lack of reciprocity from Taiwan. China provisionally made the list but only on condition that Beijing reciprocally grant EU visitors the same right of entry.

Taiwan currently bars the entry of most travelers from around the globe, including Europe, as Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center still classifies the whole world under its highest alert level for COVID-19.

Limberg said the office is lobbying German government authorities to include Taiwan on the list to facilitate bilateral business efforts, stressing that lifting travel restrictions is essential for business development.

Given that the EU has started to slowly reopen its borders for business people and travelers, Limberg felt the two sides could "reach a compromise on mutually lifting their travel restrictions."

In such a case, he was confident that "the right and mutually accepted balance between the protection of public health, the economy and the freedom of travel can be found and both sides will benefit from it."

According to the survey, 57.2 percent of German companies in Taiwan expect their revenues to decrease in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the negative impact of COVID-19, the survey results found German companies remaining committed to Taiwan, as 85.7 percent stated they did not intend to relocate their businesses to other locations, while 57.1 percent intended to stick to their original investment plans.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)

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