EU-Taiwan: European industry and businesses have a lot to gain and little to lose from deeper trade relations with Taiwan

“European industry and businesses have a lot to gain and little to lose from deeper trade relations with Taiwan”, said Laima Andrikienė MEP, Member of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, at today’s EPP Group Hearing on EU-Taiwan trade relations. The MEP also highlighted the significant opportunities that exist for European exports of services and stressed the heavy dependence of the European IT sector on Taiwanese supply of high-end components and contract manufacturing.

Being one of the most globalised and trade-dependent economies in the entire world, Taiwan is today the 9th largest trading partner of the US and 5th largest of both Japan and mainland China. Even though trade between the EU and Taiwan has increased more than eightfold over the past two decades, Taiwan is still only the 15th trading partner of the EU with a total trade volume of about 27.5 billion. However, the global economic and financial crisis hit this relationship substantially, as the bilateral trading volume shrank by 8.2 billion in 2009 compared to 2008.

Daniel Caspary MEP, EPP Group Coordinator in the International Trade Committee, stressed the need to strengthen cooperation between the EU and Taiwan and push for more comprehensive trade relations: “Europe, as well as Taiwan, would face big opportunities if we, Europeans, managed to improve our relationship with this important democratic market economy in East Asia. The European Commission should soon make a serious effort to gain additional welfare through an improved partnership with Taiwan.”

Major interest in starting talks on a possible free trade agreement was expressed by Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs, Francis Kuo-Hsin Liang, who spoke at the Hearing: “It seems quite natural that the EU and Taiwan should seriously look at the way to substantially improve our bilateral trade relations.”

In her address to MEPs, Mrs Andrikienė stressed: “I am deeply convinced that we, Members of the European Parliament, should take the initiative and advance the discussion on EU-Taiwan trade relations. On 1 July 2011, a free trade agreement with South Korea will enter into force, the EU is also negotiating with other countries in the region, such as Singapore and Malaysia. It is time we sent a strong signal to the Council and the Member States that the Parliament stands behind the idea of deepening trade ties by negotiating a free trade agreement with Taiwan.”