EU urged to press ahead with trade talks with Taiwan
theparliament.com - 11 November 2009
British MEP Charles Tannock has urged the EU to press ahead with free trade negotiations with Taiwan.
Member states have given the green light for negotiations to start between the EU and Taiwan on so-called 'trade enhanced measures' (TEM).
This is similar to the free trade agreements the EU has with various parts of the world.
Tannock, who chairs parliament's Taiwan Friendship Group, said, "The group welcomes this initiative but the sooner negotiations start the better, both for the EU and Taiwan."
Taiwan is the EU's fourth largest trading partner in Asia.
The centre-right deputy's comments come after he returned to Brussels after leading a parliamentary delegation in a five-day visit to Taiwan.
During the visit, the seven-strong delegation met the country's president, prime minister and foreign affairs minister.
Tannock also raised the issue of visa liberalisation with the Taiwanese authorities.
This follows the EU's decision to grant Taiwanese visitors to Europe visa-free status.
Tannock said, "For some reason there will be a delay in implementing this although, hopefully, it will be up and running on an EU-wide basis within the first six months of 2010."
He praised Taiwan for its efforts in tackling the economic downturn and also welcomed the improved relations between China and Taiwan, saying, "Under the previous Taiwan president, the two countries were almost at war. But things are a lot more relaxed now."
A commission spokesman said, "The EU does not formally recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state and therefore has no diplomatic or formal political relations with Taiwan.
"The EU does, however, support Taiwan's practical participation in international organisations where this does not require statehood.
"The EU has solid economic and trade relations with Taiwan. Taiwan and the EU have a healthy trade relationship – Taiwan is the EU's fourth largest trade partner in Asia and the EU is Taiwan's fourth largest market.
"Regular contacts take place in sectors such as research and technology, information society, education and culture, fisheries, environment, intellectual property rights and standards and norms."