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Sat, Nov 24, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Trade delegation going to Europe

ECONOMIC RELATIONS The European Chamber of Commerce Taipei will embark tomorrow on its annual `open door' mission to major EU countries


A European Chamber of Com-merce Taipei delegation will embark on a trip to major EU countries tomorrow to help promote trade and economic relations between Taiwan and the 15-member trade bloc.

The Chamber, which groups more than 500 individual and corporate members, is the largest European trade association in Taiwan.

Chamber Vice Chairman Paul Zeven, who will lead the delegation, said it will pay visits to the EU's legislative and executive arms -- the Europe Parliament and the European Commission.

Zeven said that, during the visits, the delegation will present the Chamber's annual position papers to the two EU organs for reference in their formulation of future EU trade policy with Taiwan.

"In addition, we'll push the EU to open a representative office in Taipei as early as possible to further boost bilateral trade and economic cooperation," Zeven said.

As Taiwan does not maintain formal diplomatic ties with any EU country, the Chamber organizes a delegation to visit the EU annually for an "open door" mission.

"These visits allow us to discuss with EU authorities the investment and business situations of European companies in Taiwan," Zeven explained, adding that over the past few years, Chamber executives have found the visits very helpful in the promotion of Taiwan-EU dialogue.

Zeven further said that the Chamber's annual position papers -- which detail the its recommendations to Taiwan for improving its general investment climate, business environment and trading system -- have also become major topics to be discussed during Taiwan-EU trade meetings.

During its week-long EU visit, the Chamber's delegation will also meet with the Taiwanese Representative to Belgium David Lee (李大維), who also serves as the Taiwnese envoy to the Brussels-based EU. The Chamber released its 2001 position paper Thursday, in which it suggested that Taiwan design a package of measures to break the current impasse with China and maximize the benefits of WTO membership.

It also suggested that if direct shipping across the Taiwan Strait is legalized, foreign companies should be allowed to compete in the same market.

According to the Chamber, a number of foreign freight companies have already invested in the construction of container yards near Kaohsiung Port in the south to help Taiwan resolve the potential problem of increased demand after the legalization of direct shipping links.

Zeven said that the position papers are meant to communicate the message that while the Taiwanese government has already made many changes to Taiwan's investment environment, there is still room for improvement in several areas.

Chamber Chief Executive Officer Theo Stiftl said that Taiwan already has a relatively open investment environment and that most people believe that the nation's economy will recover following a rebound in the US economy.

Stiftl added Taiwan should understand that its future economic development cannot continue to rely on OEM manufacturing but should instead turn to the knowledge-based economy.

Therefore, he said, an efficient system is needed, especially in terms of improving transparency and administrative efficiency.

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