Taiwan urged to hasten Lithuanian goods imports amid Chinese sanctions

12/21/2021 02:24 PM
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A stand set up to promote Lithuanian products at the Food Taipei trade show, which takes place from Dec. 22-25. CNA photo Dec. 22, 2021
A stand set up to promote Lithuanian products at the Food Taipei trade show, which takes place from Dec. 22-25. CNA photo Dec. 22, 2021

London, Dec. 20 (CNA) A senior Lithuanian agriculture official urged Taiwan to speed up granting import permissions for Lithuanian agricultural products so that they can gain access to Taiwan's market sooner, amid increasing economic sanctions from China on the Baltic nation.

Antanas Venckus, head of International Affairs and Export Promotion Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, made the comments during a recent interview with CNA.

According to Venckus, Taiwan is a potential market for the Baltic state's agricultural and food product exports.

As a large number of Lithuanian companies are facing problems entering the Chinese market due to Beijing's sanctions, Taiwanese authorities are now doing their best to help these companies to redirect their shipments of Lithuanian agricultural products to Taiwan instead, he said.

"That's a good move. And, of course, we appreciate that very much," he said.

However, Venckus also noted that many of these companies are still waiting for Taiwan's government to issue permissions and licenses so that their products can enter its market.

"We call for urgent actions from the Taiwanese side in order to help us to make this export eligible," he said.

"Now the ball is in the Taiwanese side and we are waiting for these actions to make this export possible."

The Baltic state has been facing increasing pressure both politically and economically from China after it allowed Taiwan to open its representative office in the nation's capital Vilnius in November with "Taiwanese" in its official name. Taiwan's representative offices in other European countries usually use "Taipei" in their official names.

Beijing, which claims that Taiwan and mainland China are part of the same country, has sought to impose a cost on Lithuania for its decision, which it sees as suggesting Taiwan's formal independence.

China's recent retaliatory actions have included recalling its ambassador to Lithuania and expelling the Lithuanian ambassador from Beijing, as well as suspending direct freight train services to the Baltic state and banning Lithuanian products from entering the Chinese market.

Venckus admitted that these sanctions have worried Lithuanian businesses.

"The biggest problem is that Lithuania disappeared from the customs system (of China) as a country of origin," he said. Though the Chinese side claimed it was a simple "technical problem," everyone knows that Beijing is deliberately banning Lithuanian imports, according to Venckus.

To make things worse for Lithuania, Chinese authorities are now pressuring international companies to stop working with Lithuanian counterparts.

"They are saying, if you are going to continue to cooperate with Lithuanian companies and buy components from them, we will not buy your goods. And this is a huge problem," he said. He stressed that it was not Lithuania's intention to negatively impact its relations with China.

"Normally we do not mix politics with economy, but we understand that in authoritarian countries, everything is mixed together and it's a pity that businesspeople are paying quite a high price."

Venckus said no one is actually blaming the government, to his understanding, as businesses all knew that these problems would have come sooner or later.

"This is also the message for all the other countries in the European Union. [This is] what's going to happen or what might happen, you know, if you are not playing according to the rules of the Chinese government, and if you defend your interests, which are based on your values," he warned.

Fortunately, other European Union countries, the United States, and Taiwan are supporting Lithuania, he noted.

He disclosed that his country is planning to send a business mission to Taiwan headed by its agriculture minister sometime next year to enhance trade relations.

(By Chen Yun-yu and Joseph Yeh)

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