Tue, Jan 06, 2004 - Page 10 News List

CETRA drops `China' from name

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The China External Trade Development Council (CETRA, 外貿協會), the nation's foreign trade promotion body, has officially changed its title to the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA).

The purpose of the name change is to end confusion when promoting business overseas, council chairman Hsu Chih-jen (許志仁) said at a press conference yesterday, adding that the change has been welcomed by local business groups.

"In many international events such as exhibitions, foreign organizers always mistakenly categorize us as Chinese exhibitors, which causes trouble for us and Taiwanese businessmen," Hsu said.

"The modification is just for business convenience and has nothing to do with politics as many would speculate," he said. "Many Taiwanese businessmen were delighted over the change in our title."

The council made the decision to change its name during a board meeting last month. Apart from the announcement of its new title, the organization said it will have new strategies for trade-promotion missions this year and will focus on promoting domestic traditional industries to newly developing countries.

"Taiwan's import and export industries are in good shape in terms of doing business with foreign partners, but the nation's traditional industries have been suffering losses due to Taiwan's accession to the WTO," Hsu said.

To promote traditional industries, the council plans to hold 19 food and agricultural product fairs this year in countries such as Japan, South Korea, Canada, Hong Kong and France.

"We are not going to compete on price with China or other developing countries, but we will focus on quality," Hsu said.

He said Chinese authorities have so far not allowed the establishment of a council representative office across the Strait. The group has been asking to set up an office in China to help the more than 200,000 Taiwanese businesspeople there.

The council has only one correspondent in Beijing and one in Shanghai to collect information for Taiwanese businesspeople based in China.

The council also aims to spur the domestic tourism industry. The council plans to target over 60,000 foreign business visitors as potential tourists by offering incentives such as discounts on flight tickets or accommodation.

Hsu called for the implementation of supporting measures such as an improvement in the nation's transportation network and related facilities in order to appeal to foreign tourists. He said this must be done "or they will never visit Taiwan again."

According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, there were 2.72 million foreign visitors to Taiwan last year. The government hopes to double the number this year.

To promote domestic brands and encourage innovation, the council has expanded its design promotion center, which will organize workshops as well as international design and brand-name fairs this year, he said.

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