Taiwan trade relations
Delivered in Plenary - 8 October 2013
As Chairman of the EP-Taiwan Friendship Group I have for years now called upon the EU to respond more fully to Taiwan’s financial dynamism and innovation with the ultimate prize of a much-coveted economic cooperation agreement that would prove of huge benefit to both parties.
Taiwan has generated one of the economic miracles of the twentieth century, emerging from a long-forgotten colonial backwater into an economic and technological powerhouse that today produces many of the goods that keep Europe running. There seems to be very little that is beyond the scope of Taiwanese manufacturing, with whisky and designer suits being the latest products to enter the marketplace and compete with longstanding EU producers.
Improving trade relations with Taiwan makes perfect sense for them and for us. The EU is already Taiwan’s largest source of foreign direct investment and Taiwan is the EU’s seventh biggest trading partner in Asia, a huge achievement considering the competition from that continent and the relatively small Taiwanese population. Indeed, while the population of the People’s Republic of China is roughly 58 times that of Taiwan, its level of trade with the EU is only 11 times greater. Certainly the PRC is never far from discussions with Taiwan, and President Ma’s government must be congratulated for its dialogue and ECFA agreement with Beijing that has done so much in recent years to ease tensions and boost trade across the Straits. Taiwan has also demonstrated though this year’s free trade agreement with New Zealand that it can conclude deals even with One China policy countries that do not officially recognise it.
The EU therefore cannot allow the prospects of free and fair trade with the vibrant and unique Taiwanese democracy to be held hostage to intolerable diplomatic pressure from the PRC. As the European Parliament supports Taiwan’s efforts to participate meaningfully in international organisations such as the WHO and ICAO, we must also celebrate its contribution to world trade because it is a valuable economic partner that upholds democracy and the rule of law.