Bilateral Taiwan-EU trade made a full recovery last year from the global economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, the latest EU-Taiwan fact file released by the European Economic and Trade Office showed yesterday.
Trade between the two sides last year reached a 10-year high of 40.1 billion euros (US$50.05 billion), while the trade deficit for the EU shrank to a 10-year low of 7.7 billion euros, the report showed.
Last year’s 3.1 percent growth in trade volume is a continuation of the recovery in 2010 after two years of decline in 2008 and 2009, the report said.
“Taiwanese and Europeans did a good job in 2011,” EU Representative to Taiwan Frederic Laplanche said, but added that more effort was needed to enhance bilateral trade, investments and people-to-people exchanges to overcome the economic crisis this year.
According to the report, the EU remains an important industrial partner for Taiwan.
Taiwan’s ranking among EU trading partners dropped five places to 19 last year, but it remains at about the same level as Australia and Mexico. Taiwan is the EU’s 14th-largest supplier of goods and the 22nd-largest market for EU goods, it said.
With regard to investment, the EU remained the largest foreign investor in Taiwan last year, as the report showed the EU provided US$30.24 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) stock, more than a quarter of total FDI stock in Taiwan, based on data by Taiwan’s Investment Commission.
People-to-people exchanges have also shown very positive developments, according to the report.
Because of the visa-waiver program in the Schengen Area for Republic of China passport holders, which took effect in January last year, the number of Taiwanese visitors to the EU last year grew by 39 percent from 2010, the report showed, while the number of European visitors to Taiwan grew 31 percent to 259,358.
There are also a number of co-financed research projects between the two sides under the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, which has so far co-financed with Taiwanese institutions 23 research projects ranging from green technology development to earthquake risk reduction, the report said.
Despite the positive developments, “this is no time to let down on our efforts to beat the crisis in 2012,” Laplanche said, adding: “Our economic operators must be forward-looking and seize the opportunities.”
The report was a message for Taiwanese businesspeople to “invest in the EU,” for youth to “study in the EU” and for academics to “research with the EU,” Laplanche said.
“And ‘travel to the EU’ remains our most welcoming advice to people who want to continue to benefit from the visa waiver and from Europe’s unparalleled tourism resources,” Laplanche said.