On Thursday and Friday last week, the World Trade Institute, the Swiss National Center of Competence in Research and Klaipedos Nafta co-organized an international energy forum in Vilnius, Lithuania, that discussed the development of cross-border energy trade, the decarbonization of energy markets and global energy cooperation.
The aspects of the forum that were most relevant for Taiwan pertain to Lithuania’s reforms for energy independence.
Lithuania was 100 percent dependent on oil and gas imports from Russia, but is now 100 percent independent, with a large liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal built at the Klaipeda seaport, and power links to Sweden and Poland.
The Klaipeda LNG terminal has allowed the nation to obtain a 23 percent discount on natural gas prices. Of the three Baltic states, Lithuania has the lowest LNG price for industrial consumers and the price for households is just slightly higher than in Estonia. In addition, the electricity price in the Lithuanian trading zone at the Nord Pool exchange fell by 18 percent following the completion of the power transmission system to Sweden and Poland.
Looking at the achievements, it is possible to extract three important elements of the reform process: The Lithuanian model emphasizes the role of trade and investment regulations; the country has established a well-designed regulatory environment for the implementation of infrastructure projects; and the authorities implement policy solutions for energy security, economic growth and energy decarbonization simultaneously.
In short, Lithuania not only sees energy market reform as a national issue, but also as a regional and international one. Lithuania has become a global player in the energy sector, and its Klaipeda LNG terminal has the potential of becoming a major hub for joint LNG purchases in the entire Baltic Sea region and beyond. For instance, neighboring Finland ought to use the Klaipeda LNG terminal and the bunkering facilities to boost Finnish domestic competition.
However, in Taiwan, mainstream discussions on energy matters have not properly addressed the importance of international trade rules, mega-regional trade deals and the regulatory design for promoting infrastructure investment. On the one hand, Taiwan depends on imports for about 98 percent of its energy consumption, and on the other, its renewable energy technologies and energy-saving services are still attractive to major international markets. Therefore, facilitating a multilateral solution that combines energy, environmental and economic considerations is a feasible option for Taiwan.
Based on existing WTO and APEC models, the government might first consider observing the International Energy Charter. This treaty — known as “WTO-plus” in the energy sector — outlines principles for cross-national energy cooperation and offers comprehensive mechanisms for investment protection, freedom of energy transmission and international dispute settlements, thereby mitigating risks associated with energy-related trade and investment.
In addition, as Japan regards entry to the Trans-Pacific Partnership as paving the way for US booming shale-gas output and future LNG deals, Taiwan should reflect on its strategies of energy security and the benefits of international trade and investment in the context of both multilateral and bilateral economic integration.
Yang Chung-han is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge and a member of the Taipei Bar Association. His doctoral research examines the interactions between international environmental law and investment law.
Burger King Taiwan on Wednesday last week posted an update on Facebook advertising a new “Wuhan pneumonia” (武漢肺炎) home delivery meal, catering to customers hankering for a Whopper, but who wished to avoid visiting one of its outlets. “Wuhan pneumonia” is the term commonly used in Taiwan to describe COVID-19. Beijing has been waging an extensive propaganda campaign against the use of the words “Wuhan” or “China” in reference to the novel coronavirus, calling it racist and discriminatory. Meanwhile, Chinese officials have claimed that the coronavirus might have originated in the US. The intention is obvious: to distract attention from the Chinese Communist
Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force Shaanxi KJ-500 airborne early-warning aircraft and Shenyang J-11 fighters on March 16 conducted a nighttime exercise in the waters southwest of Taiwan and, in doing so, came close to the nation’s air defense identification zone. Three days later, the PLA Navy’s fleet for Gulf of Aden escort mission sailed north in the Pacific off Taiwan’s east coast via the Miyako Strait on its way home. Meanwhile, the US carried out freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and assembled the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group with the Expeditionary Strike Group to conduct
Having returned to the UK late last year and with a Taiwanese spouse remaining in Taiwan, I have been afforded the chance to compare and contrast the UK and Taiwanese governments’ responses to the COVID-19 crisis. My early conclusions are that Taiwan benefits from a rational, competent government, which quickly recognizes, adapts to and confronts large-scale disasters. It is led by a government that does more than just talk of respecting democracy and human rights, one that is scrutinized and responds to criticism, one that is concerned about public opinion, and one that is used to dealing with emergencies on
Italy, Spain, France, the UK and the US are all depending on social distancing to fight COVID-19 and have fallen into terrible situations, with mounting positive cases and many deaths. Social distancing might flatten the curve, so that the peak is not so high that hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, the problem is that the pandemic could extend further into the future, hurt the economy more and become unbearable for society. Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Singapore have controlled the spread of COVID-19, and the main reason is that most Asians wear masks. It can be illustrated as follows: If someone contracts the