Sat, Feb 28, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan to open a Bangladesh office

NEW ALLY Despite its close ties with China, the Dhaka government is unlikely to change its decision establishing mutual representative offices, officials said

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei Representative Office in Dhaka, Bangladesh, will officially begin operations on Monday after a year-long negotiation process between the two countries, the Minis-try of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday.

Bangladesh is the second country in South Asia where Taiwan has opened a representative office -- the first being the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in New Delhi, India, which was opened in 1995.

"I am very glad to announce the significant advance in our foreign relations with the establishment of the office in Bangladesh," Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新) said.

The office will provide consular and other services to various sectors in Taiwan and Bangladesh and enhance bilateral cooperation in fields such as trade, culture, education and technology, the ministry said.

The first Taiwanese representative to Bangladesh is Frank Chen (陳文煙), former deputy director-general of the foreign ministry's department of general affairs.

The Bangladeshi government will announce the date on which its representative office in Taipei is to be opened in the near future, Chien said.

Bangladesh has had limited bilateral exchanges with Taiwan since it declared independence in 1971.

In 2002, the overall trade volume between Bangladesh and Taiwan amounted to about US$370 million, according to the ministry.

The establishment of the office in Dhaka will reinforce Taiwan's trade relations in South Asia and is expected to help the country to explore the region's huge markets and seek opportunities for participation in regional organizations, Chien said.

The employment of Bangladeshi laborers in Taiwan was a key issue on the agenda during negotiations on the establishment of representative offices, he said.

According to the ministry more than a dozen Taiwanese companies are operating in Bangladesh, with the majority of them in labor-intensive industries such as textiles and the production of electrical goods.

The ministry said that textiles and machinery produced in Taiwan have been popular in Bangladesh for many years.

Referring to Bangladesh, China, India and Vietnam as the four "world factory" countries, Chien said local businesspeople have been eagerly calling for the establishment of mutual representative offices in Bangladesh and Taiwan.

Businessmen from South Korea and other countries were also actively exploring the Bangladeshi market, according to the ministry.

The office in Dhaka will help Taiwanese companies to negotiate with the Bangladeshi government over business opportunities and resolve difficulties in applications for visas and residence permits, the ministry said.

In the past, businesspeople traveling between Bangladesh and Taiwan had to apply for visas in either Bangkok or Hong Kong, which caused delays of up to three days in each direction.

Gary Lin (林松煥), the director-general of the ministry's department of East Asia and Pacific affairs, said a senior Bangladeshi investment official is visiting Taiwan at the moment, and a trade delegation is scheduled to visit Taiwan in June.

Despite its close ties with China, the government of Bangladesh is unlikely to give in to pressure to change its decision to establish mutual representative offices, Lin said.

Formerly known as East Paki-stan, Bangladesh is located at a pivotal position on the South Asian subcontinent between India and Myanmar.

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