Fri, May 16, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Taiwan and Vietnam hold trade talks in Switzerland

CNA , GENEVA

Taiwan and Vietnam held their first negotiation meeting on the terms of a bilateral trade agreement in Geneva on Wednesday, as Vietnam is seeking to become a member of the WTO, an official of Taiwan's WTO representative office in the Swiss city said.

The official said that the meeting between trade officials of the two sides was co-chaired by Francis Liang (梁國新), deputy director-general of the Board of Foreign Trade, and Vietnam's Deputy Minister of Trade Luong Van Tu.

As Vietnam's biggest source of foreign direct investment, Taiwan is expecting that Vietnam will open its market to its services sector, the insurance market in particular, in addition to lowering import tariffs and non-tariff barriers, Liang said.

During the meeting, the Vietnamese officials promised to study the feasibility of Taiwan's requests and to respond later, as they said it was not possible to make a prompt evaluation, he added.

Taiwanese businesses have invested some US$10 billion in Vietnam and that 90 percent of their insurance is in the hands of Vietnam's state-run insurance companies, Liang said.

Taiwanese financial and insurance businesses have expressed interest in entering the growing market.

In terms of trade, Liang said that in the first 11 months of last year, Taiwan's exports to Vietnam amounted to US$2.292 billion, making the nation the second largest source of imports into the Southeast Asian country.

Vietnam's exports to Taiwan during the period totaled US$746 million.

In view of the close economic and trade ties between the two sides, the government views with importance the bilateral negotiations with Vietnam, Liang said, adding that it hopes to help Taiwanese businesses gain access to overseas markets.

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