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Taiwan-EU relations 'at all-time high': President Lai

06/13/2024 11:12 PM
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President Lai Ching-te (center), European Economic and Trade Office head Filip Grzegorzewski (right) and European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan Chairman Giuseppe Izzo. CNA photo June 13, 2024
President Lai Ching-te (center), European Economic and Trade Office head Filip Grzegorzewski (right) and European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan Chairman Giuseppe Izzo. CNA photo June 13, 2024

Taipei, June 13 (CNA) President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said Thursday Taiwan-European Union (EU) relations are "at an all-time high" and Taiwan is ready and willing to work with European nations to address global issues together, at a gala celebrating Europe Day.

"In this era of globalization and wide-ranging competition no one country can go it alone," Lai said in his speech delivered in English at the dinner party held by the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT).

Economic-wise, the president said Europe is now Taiwan's third largest trading partner, as well as Taiwan's largest source of foreign investment.

Also, Europe is home to a great number of mature democracies, and while Europe and Taiwan may be separated by great distance, "we are very close in our determination to advance democracy, peace, prosperity and sustainability."

As Taiwan is advancing to develop more green energy, has the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing, stands at the center of the AI revolution and is a key player in supply chains for global democracies, "I believe that Taiwan and Europe can each use our strength as we engage in exchanges and form an even closer and more solid partnership," Lai said.

The president also said the country hopes to sign an economic partnership agreement with the EU which would give enterprises a better investment environment and more business opportunities.

The European Union's European Economic and Trade Office (EETO) head Filip Grzegorzewski in his address shared his observations on how much the EU-Taiwan relationship has advanced in recent years.

The first is stronger economic ties, as in the four years between 2020 and 2023, "bilateral trade between the EU and Taiwan increased by 42 percent."

The EU is now Taiwan's foremost foreign investor accounting for 26.2 percent of all Taiwan's inbound foreign direct investment with notable investment in offshore wind and high tech industry, he said, highlighting that since 2018 EU companies have "infused more than NT$300 billion into Taiwan's energy sector."

On the other hand, Taiwanese investment in the EU surged by 750 percent in 2023 compared to 2022, he stressed.

On the non-trade level, the EETO head said five years ago very few people in EU circles spoke publicly on record about Taiwan.

"This has changed, as Taiwan now is an integral part of the EU Indo-Pacific strategy," which aims at deepening engagement with partners in the Indo-Pacific including Taiwan, so the EU can respond to emerging dynamics affecting regional stability, he stressed.

ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo said the chamber has been working with the Taiwanese government to not only promote European business interests but also to open up Taiwan to the world and advance Taiwan's progress for more than 30 years.

He urged the new administration to have constant reevaluations on setting priorities, saying decisions should be guided by asking basic questions on the issue to be solved.

On the shortage of renewable energy in Taiwan, for example, a simple question to be asked would be what action will get more wind turbines spinning by the end of the decade; regarding talent, the crucial question would be what are the friendliest policies to attract talented people to Taiwan, he said.

The gala according to ECCT was attended by more than 800 guests including many government officials, including Minister of Economic Affairs J.W. Kuo (郭智輝), Digital Affairs Minister Huang Yen-nun (黃彥男), Minister of Environment Peng Chi-ming (彭啟明) and National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮).

The annual Europe Day celebration marks the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration in 1950, which ultimately led to the formation of today's European Union.

(By Alison Hsiao)

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