Lithuania passes law, giving green light to open Taiwan office

10/01/2021 09:38 PM
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Aušrinė Armonaitė, Lithuania
Aušrinė Armonaitė, Lithuania's economy and innovation minister. From Aušrinė Armonaitė's Twitter

London, Oct. 1 (CNA) Lithuania's parliament on Thursday passed a legal revision that gave the green light to the country to open a representative office in a country like Taiwan with which the Baltic state does not have formal diplomatic relations.

The amendment passed will be used by Lithuania as the legal basis for establishing an economic and trade office in Taiwan.

Aušrinė Armonaitė, Lithuania's economy and innovation minister, said the move by the parliament will allow the country to explore overseas business opportunities by forging closer economic ties with countries such as Taiwan.

Lithuania is looking forward to enhancing cooperation in high tech and innovation with these countries, Armonaitė said.

In July, Lithuania announced a plan to open a representative office in Taiwan, pending the establishing of a legal basis for the move.

Armonaitė said Lithuania sees many untapped opportunities in East Asia and Southeast Asia, and it has been keen to develop investment and trade ties with Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, and other economies in the region.

After the law was amended, Lithuania's Ministry of the Economy and Innovation began the process to select an appropriate person to head the office in Taiwan.

In an interview with CNA in August, Armonaitė said her ministry will be in charge of the trade office in Taiwan.

The new office is expected to open by the end of 2021 and could be named the "Lithuanian Representative Office" or the "Lithuanian Trade Representative Office," Lithuania's vice foreign minister Mantas Adomėnas said in August.

China has been unhappy with Lithuania's move to improve its ties with Taiwan, especially its move to allow Taiwan to use the word "Taiwan" in the name of its office in Vilnius rather than the typical "Taipei" because of the international legitimacy the name might convey.

Armonaitė said, however, that many other members of the European Union have already opened an office in Taiwan, and Lithuania will do the same.

Currently, the EU is Taiwan's fifth largest market, while Taiwan is the EU's sixth largest trading partner in Asia, according to Armonaitė.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOEA) said after Lithuania's passage of the amendment that it was delighted to see another step forward taken to improve bilateral ties.

On July 20, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) announced that Taiwan would open a representative office in Lithuania to expand its relations with the Baltic state and other Central European countries.

The office, to be named "The Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania," will be located in Vilnius, Lithuania's capital, but Wu did not disclose when the office might be opened.

MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said Friday that Taiwan and Lithuania have already had good exchanges, referring to an online B2B trade conference held on Sept. 15.

Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫), who heads Taiwan's National Development Council (NDC), will lead a 65-member trade delegation to Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania, departing on Oct. 20, to seek business opportunities in the three countries.

In late September, Lithuania pledged to donate 235,900 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Taiwan after its earlier donation of 20,000 doses of the vaccine in July.

(By Chen Yun-yu, Chung Yu-chen and Frances Huang)

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