The International Cooperation and Development Fund is training Mongolian owners of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), so that they can learn from this country's development of such businesses. The training program is being offered under the auspices of the the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's Mongolia Cooperation Fund.
This is the very first international cooperation case between Taiwan and the bank in the face of China's diplomatic oppression. In terms of Taiwan's foreign assistance activities, it has turned the nation from a donor to an executor of aid projects. It is a diplomatic breakthrough with deep meaning for the nation's foreign-assistance programs.
The bank established the Mongolia Cooperation Fund in 2001 with 10.3 million euros (NT$439 million) in contributions from Japan (5 million euros), the Netherlands (3.3 million euros) and 1 million euros each from Luxembourg and Taiwan. The Mongolian fund assists that nation in implementing economic and legal reforms, so that its transformation into a market economy can proceed smoothly.
While the size of Taiwan's donation is relatively small, the development of small and medium-sized businesses in this country has been praised by the bank. This has helped offset the gap between advanced countries and those that receive their funding.
Taiwan's cultivation of SMEs and the development of its information industry and precision agricultural techniques are all areas the government can focus on in future foreign aid projects as well as being vehicles for creating diplomatic breakthroughs. These are also areas in which Beijing lags behind Taipei.
In future, therefore, it should be possible for Taiwan to rely on the experience of its own economic development and strength to propose cooperation programs in international economic organizations based on our economic superiority. The government could use its aid money to facilitate the integration of more international resources to implement foreign aid programs and turn Taiwan into a new force for international economic cooperation and development.
This would also create more room for diplomatic activities, and the nation would no longer have to worry about Chinese pressure and isolation.
The suggestions made by Taiwan at APEC's Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group have been praised every year by other members. This is a great example of using Taiwan's economic strength at international events. The Mongolian fund experience is a good example for the foreign and economic affairs ministries to follow. Those ministries should become more confident and active when making suggestions to international economic organizations to highlight Taiwan's unique economic abilities. This would help show that Taiwan's development experience could be used as a reference for developing countries and raise the nation's international profile.
Many advanced countries, including Japan and Australia, use a combination of diplomacy and aid in their international relations, and have, therefore, been able to make their presence felt both politically and commercially on the international stage. In the 1950s and 1960s, Taiwan was known for sending agricultural teams to Africa and the South Pacific. Taiwan now has another opportunity to use its diligence and wisdom to act globally, paving the way for further economic diplomacy.