Wed, Sep 19, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan, Panama boosting trade ties

DPA , PANAMA CITY

Bureau of Foreign Trade Deputy Director-General Wu Hsin-hua talks during a meeting in Panama City, Panama, on Monday. Wu is on a trip to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to strengthen political and economic ties with the region.

PHOTO: EPA

Taiwan and Panama on Monday proposed a sharp increase in bilateral economic ties in the fields of construction, industry and the exploitation of marine resources in light of a free-trade agreement between the two countries.

Panamanian Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade Carmen Gisela Vergara and Bureau of Foreign Trade Deputy Director-general Wu Hsin-hua (吳新華) launched a business forum in Panama that would explore joint opportunities.

Vergara said a 2004 free-trade agreement has opened up possibilities for investment in services, ports, airports and the technology sector. She said that bilateral trade added up to US$217.7 million last year and was rising.

Wu said Taiwan wanted a stake in Panama's construction sector, and that Taiwanese firms would be interested in playing a part in the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Wu said that Kan Shi-ying (甘錫瀅), the designer of the Taipei 101 -- the tallest completed building in the world -- is due to arrive in Panama later this month to speak at the 20th International Building Industry Fair in Panama City.

Taiwan was interested in Panama's plans to become a regional energy center, and Wu mentioned the possibility of the two countries jointly exploring biofuels and the use of sea water to generate energy.

According to the 2004 trade pact, some 6,200 Panamanian items can enter Taiwan with no tariff, while 4,160 Taiwanese products receive similar treatment in Panama.

The Taiwanese delegation is also set to visit Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

The five countries have signed free-trade agreements with Taipei, which will facilitate Taiwanese goods entering North American markets that Central American countries also have trade deals with.

Taiwan's agreement with Nicaragua is expected to become active later this year.

The deals with Honduras and El Salvador will come into effect next year.

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