The European Chamber of Commerce Taipei (ECCT) expects the negotiation of free-trade agreements (FTA) between Taiwan and the EU to be set in one or two years, as FTAs may benefit both sides amid the global financial crisis and European debt crisis, an ECCT official said yesterday.
The trade group, consisting of 400 companies with nearly US$30 billion in direct foreign investments in Taiwan, said the possible resumption of the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between Taiwan and the US by the end of this year may prompt the EU to accelerate its trade talks with Taiwan.
“The ECCT has long supported a trade deal between the EU and Taiwan because it is good for economic growth and for creating jobs in both sides,” ECCT chairman Chris James told a media briefing after releasing a follow-up report on trade enhancement measures.
The updated report, compiled by Denmark-based consultancy Copenhagen Economics, concludes that the potential for EU-Taiwan trade enhancement measures is much stronger today than in 2008, when the original report was released.
European exports to Asia accelerated over the past few years from before the eurozone’s debt crisis, with Taiwan gaining in relative importance as a destination for European exports, said Martin Thelle, partner at the consultancy and chief researcher in charge of the report.
The EU’s exports of goods to Taiwan rose by more than 40 percent between 2008 and last year, while services exports increased by 50 percent over the same period, Thelle said, citing the report’s statistics.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s exports to the EU could increase by 10 billion euros (US$12.95 billion) per year as a result of trade enhancement measures, from the current 24 billion euros per year, Thelle said.
Since the EU has signed an FTA with South Korea — which came into effect on July 1 last year — and has initiated FTA negotiations with Japan, the trade-distorting impact on EU-Taiwan trade could worsen in the near future without putting FTA talks on the agenda, the ECCT said.