What you need to know
Taiwan's Economic and Cultural Affairs Office had suspended operations in Guam in August 2017 due to budget concerns. The move comes as Taiwan-U.S. relations are seen to be on the upswing.
In light of Taiwan’s closer relations with the United States, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced today that it would re-establish an Economic and Cultural Affairs Office (TECO) on Guam.
In August 2017, the Taiwanese government decided to suspend operations at its Guam office out of budgetary concerns, moving over its operations to Palau. In a press release, MOFA cited an increased budget and relations with the U.S. improving to a level of “global cooperation partners” as key to the decision. Operations in Guam are expected to resume in August or September of this year.
MOFA said that the strategic situation of the Pacific region has been changing. The 2019 U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy Report stated the strategic importance of Indo-Pacific region aligns with Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy. The reopening of the TECO office in Guam would deepen Taiwan’s economic and cultural exchanges across the Pacific region, according to MOFA.
Although Taiwan had temporarily halted TECO operations in Guam, the Taiwanese government has maintained trade relations with the island. Taiwanese corporations such as First Commercial Bank, Asia Cement Corporation, and China Airlines have invested in Guam. Taiwan has also encouraged Guam residents to visit Taiwan for medical tourism.
According to Guam’s tourism office, Taiwanese tourists accounted for third-most among foreign visitors. They were also the strongest consumer spenders. In addition, Guam and Taipei have had a sister-city agreement for 50 years.
Guam, too, approved the TECO reopening. In 2017 and 2018, Eddie Calvo, Guam’s then-governor, expressed to President Tsai Ing-wen his wish that Taiwan would consider reopening the Guam office.
The Guam TECO would be the thirteenth of its kind in the United States, joining Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Chicago, Honolulu, Denver, and Miami.
MOFA statistics show there are currently 108 Taiwanese embassies, representative offices, and economic and cultural affairs offices around the world (excluding China’s). On July 1, Taiwan announced that a representative office would be established in Somaliland, bringing the total to 110 once the Guam office is reestablished.
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TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty, Daphne K. Lee (@thenewslensintl)
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