On July 14, Benôit Guidée, director of the French Office in Taiwan, announced during a ceremony in Taipei for Bastille Day that Taiwan and France had signed a long-awaited working holiday agreement.

The policy takes effect on Aug. 8, with both sides providing each other with 500 visas annually. It will allow people aged 18 to 30 to be hired as temporary employees and enjoy a 360-day residency via two 180-day visas.

Applications can be filed with the French Office in Taiwan by e-mail.

France is the 10th European country to sign a working holiday agreement with Taiwan. Taiwan is the 11th country with which France has signed such a pact.

Guidee, who made the announcement with Wu Chih-chung (吳志中), deputy minister of the Foreign Affairs, also said that starting on Oct. 10 there would be direct flights between Taipei and Paris every day.

Dream chasers staying in Taiwan

Guidée said an increasing number of French were visiting Taiwan because of its democratic and liberal society.

There are about 1,500 French students in Taiwan, the most among European countries. More than 4,000 French nationals currently live in Taiwan. Some of them were first here as students and chose to stay.

One of them is Aurelien Abel, a former student at National Central University, who opened the Faguo-Hai Restaurant with his brother and friend in Chungli, Taoyuan. Abel said he fell in love with the country and decided to stay here. The restaurant combines local ingredients with French cuisine.

Stéphane Ferrero, a French photographer, publishes the fashion magazine Revver with his friend Sanza Bulaya in Taiwan. Ferrero, who has lived in Taiwan for more than 20 years, said the unique culture and open-minded society make Taiwan the perfect place for independent artists.

Business ties and economic possibilities

In 2015, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry France Taiwan (CCI) hit a fresh record of 184 members.

This March, Orange S.A. (France Télécom S.A.), a French multinational telecommunications corporation, announced at the Smart City Summit and Expo that it had funded five Taiwanese startup companies via its Orange Fab Asia project: ThinkTank, Aengin, MOOREdoll, nextDrive and Whynot. The project aims to help the companies build bonds with potential funders in France, Japan, South Korea and other countries. To expand the market, products can be launched on Orange’s mobile platform and Orange would also support product development.

In an interview with Business Next in January, Guidée said Taiwan usually looks to Silicon Valley for startup backers. However, he believed there could be more ties between Taiwan and France and he encourages Taiwanese companies to join French start-up accelerators.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole