The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA, 外貿協會) announced yesterday that it aims to set up five more overseas branches this year in an effort to reach out to more countries.
While all the details are still being worked out, the new offices will most probably be located in Libya, Kenya, Lebanon and India, said Walter Yeh (葉明水), TAITRA's executive vice president.
"This year, we will establish offices where the foreign and economic ministries have no presence. This represents our efforts for overseas strategic deployment and we want to extend comprehensive services to Taiwanese businesspeople there," he told reporters on the sidelines of a press conference yesterday.
According to Yeh, each office will require an initial investment of around NT$25 million (US$773,000), and the council will station two officials at each office and hire another three local staff for support operations.
TAITRA set up nine new offices last year in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Romania, Ukraine, South Africa, Chile, Spain and the US.
This brought the number of the government-backed trade promotion agency's offices to 44, which is still far fewer than the Japan External Trade Organization's 77 worldwide branches, and the Korea-Trade and Investment Promotion Agency's 105 offices.
Meanwhile, the council is also poised to widen exchanges with exhibitors across the Taiwan Strait.
"We are putting on 10 trade shows for companies in China this year for exhibition participation and procurement possibilities. We have received applications for five of the shows so far," Yeh said.
These shows include the Taipei International Automobile Electronics Show, the Taipei International Gift and Stationery Show as well as the Taipei International Digital Electronics Show.
The council only allowed Chinese vendors to participate in the Taipei International Electronics Autumn Show last year.
In June last year, the council closed down four booths at Computex Taipei 2005 that were being operated by two Chinese companies, which had gained access to the show using the names of two local companies.
"We don't have plans to open up Computex to Chinese firms this year because of limitations on booths," Yeh said.
In related news, TAITRA chairman Hsu Chih-jen (許志仁) said that the Taipei International Convention Center, which is managed by TAITRA, reported 15-year record-high revenue last year of over NT$270 million.
The figure will rise this year due to improvements in facilities which will better accommodate international conventions, he added.