The European Parliament on Wednesday approved a resolution that “strongly supports” the enhancement of EU-Taiwan economic ties and the signing of an EU-Taiwan economic cooperation agreement, a move an official said would help the EU identify Taiwan as a priority country in negotiating a free-trade agreement (FTA).
The resolution provides a boost to efforts by Taiwan and the European Chamber of Commerce Taipei to sign an EU-Taiwan Trade Enhancement Measures (TEM) agreement.
“Despite not being legally binding, the resolution shows that the European Parliament attaches great importance to Taiwan and sends a message to the European Council that the relationship between the EU and Taiwan is not an issue to be left out in its foreign and security policy toward Asia,” said James Lee (李光章), director-general of European affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A total of 87 resolutions were attached by the European Parliament in the annual report from the European Council on the main aspects and basic choices of the Common Foreign and Security Policy in 2009, a general foreign policy guideline for EU member states.
Resolution No. 76 states that the European Parliament welcomes the steps taken by the parties on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, which resulted in the signing of about 15 agreements, including the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and an agreement on intellectual property rights.
“Given that the expansion of cross-strait economic relations is in the interest of both sides and of the EU, [the European Parliament] strongly supports the enhancement of EU-Taiwan economic ties and the signing of an EU-Taiwan economic cooperation agreement,” the resolution said.
The adoption of the resolution was a positive step forward for Taiwan’s signing of a TEM with Europe. It also comes ahead of the scheduled implementation of an EU-South Korea FTA on July 1, Lee said.
As a high percentage of South Korea’s exports to the EU overlap with Taiwan’s, it is imperative that Taiwan sign a TEM with Europe to ensure the competitiveness of Taiwanese products, Lee said.
However, Taiwan has yet to be placed on a list of Asian countries to sign FTAs with Europe, which currently focuses on South Korea, India and ASEAN.
In related news, Taiwan is one of the 18 countries and territories in which the UK will add diplomatic staff, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement on Wednesday regarding a new strategic shift for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) overseas network.
Hague said the UK would open new embassies in El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan and South Sudan, as well as in Madagascar and Somalia, when the local situations stabilize.
More diplomats will also be sent to China and India to increase British influence with the rising powers of the 21st century, Hague said.
The planned increase in diplomatic staff in Taiwan came as the UK and Taiwan engage in robust bilateral relations in a broad range of areas such as trade, tourism, education and bilateral cooperation on climate change, said Margaret Tongue, deputy director of the British Trade and Cultural Office.