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In the video conference President Ma Ying-jeou held with members of the European Parliament on September 29, he mentioned the close economic and trade relations between Taiwan and the EU. Ma called for the European Commission to start negotiating with Taiwan regarding an investment protection and market access agreement, as well as a bilateral investment agreement for a synergistic effect with the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and share a cross-strait peace dividend.

Apple Daily reports, after Ma’s speech, Belgian Minister of Defense Mark Eyskens pointed out that Taiwan and China have developed a close economic and trade relationship, and he was concerned with China’s launch of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), since China has not always conformed to WTO’s regulations.

Ma responded, AIIB is an international institution located in China, and he believes AIIB will comply with relevant provisions. Ma said that he personally would not worry because AIIB will carefully deal with international issues.

Ma said that the EU is Taiwan’s fifth largest trading partner, and Taiwan is the EU’s seventh largest trading partner in Asia and 19th largest overall. In 2014, the two-way trade reached US$ 50.9 billion, increasing 3.7% from the previous year. The EU is also Taiwan’s largest aggregate source of foreign investment, with total investments reaching US$ 33 billion by the end of 2014.

In recent years, investments between Taiwan and the EU have been thriving. In 2013, the German multinational Merck established Asia’s first New Business R&D and Application Lab in Taiwan. The following year, Great Britain’s ARM set up its first Asian CPU Design Center in the island as well. In May this year, the Republic of China formally became part of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), marking the beginning of a new era of cooperation between small and medium sized enterprises in Taiwan and Europe.

Ma said, “Since day one of my tenure as president, I have pursued a path of viable diplomacy, stabilizing and strengthening relationships with our existing allies. In countries where we don’t enjoy formal ties, we have nevertheless been cultivating substantive relations."

Over the past 7 years, Taiwan has seen some success regarding international participation. In 2009 Taiwan became a signatory to the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). Since then, the World Health Organization (WHO) has also invited the ROC to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer for seven consecutive years. And in 2013, the director general of Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration was also invited to attend the 38th annual conference of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as a special guest.

At the end of the speech, Ma expressed his hopes that the European Parliament will continue to pass resolutions supporting Taiwan’s participation in global cooperative efforts, such as UNFCCC, ICAO and WHO, as well as international organizations, conventions and mechanisms that respond to the challenges of globalization.

Translated and compiled by Vic
Edited by Olivia Yang