Wed, Apr 11, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan, UK mulling trade agreement

GOING ‘GREEN’:As the first country to develop civil nuclear power, the UK can help Taiwan deal with its end of life of nuclear plants, a British trade representative said

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

British Undersecretary of State for International Trade Graham Stuart inspects a light panel yesterday at a news conference at the YesHealth iFarm vertical vegetable farming company in Taoyuan.

Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times

British Undersecretary of State for International Trade Graham Stuart yesterday set an optimistic tone for the possibility of a trade agreement between Taiwan and the UK after Brexit, touting the productive environment created by bilateral trade talks.

Stuart made the remarks at a news conference in Taoyuan at the vertical vegetable farming company YesHealth iFarm (源鮮智慧農場), which is to invest £18 million (US$25.5 million) to establish its first European base with a vertical farming factory in York, England.

“This is only the latest announcement in a pattern of mutual trade and investment that has flourished between our economies in recent years,” Stuart said, adding that the firm’s 14-story vertical farm is Asia’s largest indoor plant producer and is at the cutting edge of an industry that, while still in its early stages, has truly global implications.

He also announced that frozen food manufacturer Han Dian Frozen Prepared Food Co (漢典食品) would invest £3.5 million to expand its UK manufacturing operation, following an initial investment in London in September last year.

Asked about the possibility of a trade deal between Taipei and London, Stuart said that the British government has had excellent trade talks with Taiwan and that they have been very productive since they were established.

“As we leave the EU, the first step is to roll over existing agreements, which countries around the world have so far indicated that they are happy to do,” Stuart said, adding that the UK’s next step would be looking to work closely with its allies around the world.

“For now, the trade talks between Taiwan and the UK provide a very productive environment to develop further links between the two countries,” he said, without elaborating.

The two nations, which saw two-way trade of £5.4 billion in 2016, concluded their 20th round of trade talks in London in December last year, where they reached a consensus to set up a dialogue platform this year to discuss agriculture and energy cooperation.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in a meeting with Stuart at the Presidential Office on Monday that the two nations have been given a chance to upgrade the overall bilateral relationship, as the UK is preparing to form new trade relationships with important trading partners in the post-Brexit era.

In addition to agriculture and “green” energy, there are other key areas where Taiwan and the UK have mutual interests and cooperation, including biotech, artificial intelligence, infrastructure and railways, Stuart said.

“England was the first country in the world to develop civil nuclear power. We have tremendous experience in dealing with the end of life of nuclear plants. So there is a huge opportunity for British firms to support Taiwan in ... dealing with its nuclear legacies and developing ‘green’ renewables,” Stuart said.

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