MEPs encouraged the Commission to take initiative on upgraded EU-Taiwan trade

Laima Andrikiene MEP and Daniel Caspary MEP have welcomed the start of a parliamentary discussion on deeper trade ties between the EU and Taiwan, as EU-Taiwan trade yesterday was debated for the first time in the European Parliament for many years. MEPs from different political groups were almost unanimous in sending a very clear signal to the Commission not to put Taiwan in a drawer but to take initiative on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement, remarked L. Andrikiene.

This discussion followed a joint oral question addressed to the Commission in September, where MEPs from different groups posed a number of specific questions to the Commission. The main issues raised, among other things, were concerning the importance of the trade and investment relationship with Taiwan within the context of the Europe 2020 strategy, the measures the EU should employ to improve terms of trade and investment with Taiwan and the business opportunities that the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement concluded between Taiwan and China in 2010 could create for European businesses.

In the opinion of L. Andrikiene, EU-Taiwan trade relationship has recently performed well below its potential. “Large gains for European companies can be expected in terms of exports of goods and services, as well as foreign direct investments”, she said. She stressed the important role of Taiwan in the global supply chains of Information and Communication Technologies and noted that the European ICT sector is itself heavily dependent on Taiwanese supply of high-end components and contract manufacturing.

L. Andrikiene made a point that closer economic ties do not contradict EU’s “one China” policy. She also reminded that Taiwan is already negotiating an FTA with Singapore; New Zealand, India, Indonesia and the Philippines are supposed to follow next. She therefore urged the EU to be in line with these processes and consider launching FTA negotiations with Taiwan.

D. Caspary, who is the Coordinator of the EPP Group in the International Trade Committee, marked that it is the first time in many years that we are debating the EU-Taiwan trade relationship. According to D. Caspary, Taiwan is economically important to the EU and therefore it is high time to discuss this relationship. “The big issue is what can the EU do to improve the trade relationship and investment climate with Taiwan, he said.

However, after the debate L. Andrikiene expressed her disappointment about the unpreparedness of the Commission to provide more information on the topic and said that the Commission was clearly not in a position to answer all of the detailed questions put forward by MEPs.