The nation looks forward to talks to facilitate its integration with regional blocs such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and to forge free trade agreements, a government source said yesterday.
Government Information Office Director-General Lin Chia-lung (
The country's participation in the OAS -- one of the world's most important regional blocs -- and forging of FTAs with more countries will help the country develop multilateral economic and political ties, Lin said.
It could also help Taiwan get out of its diplomatic quagmire and usher in an era of regional integration, Lin said.
In addition to attending Panamanian President Martin Torrijos' inauguration during his two-day state visit to Panama, Chen also met and talked with many incumbent and former heads of state, including former Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who will assume office as OAS secretary-general later this month.
According to Lin, Chen said that if Taiwan can become an observer in the OAS, it would boost Taiwan's trade and business exchanges with Latin America.
During his talks with Rodriguez, Chen noted that one-third of the 34 OAS member states are diplomatic allies of Taiwan and that Central America maintains close trade and economic ties with Taiwan.
He said that the US supports Taiwan's OAS observer status and expressed hope that Rodriguez, as a "best friend" of Taiwan, can help make that goal a reality after taking over his new post.
For his part, Rodriguez said that he and Chen Chien-jen (程建人), former Taiwan representative to the US, studied strategies in the past for joining the OAS and reached consensus that diplomatic skills and strategies are needed to gain the consent of all OAS members.
Rodriguez said he believes that if Taiwan applied its diplomatic wisdom, it could achieve its goals.
Chen also invited the former Costa Rican president to visit Taiwan again. Rodriguez last visited the country in March 1999 during his term as president.
According to Lin, although the OAS is a loose regional bloc, it has political influence.
If Taiwan becomes an OAS observer, its ties with countries in that part of the world would expand from "dots" to "lines, " enabling Taiwan to make more contributions to the world and thus increase its international visibility.
If Taiwan becomes an OAS observer, said Lin -- a US-trained academic whose expertise is elections and electoral systems -- Taiwan could contribute, among other things, its expertise in electoral operations to OAS members to help them with know-how from one of the world's "most sophisticated and well-organized election systems."
During his talks with other foreign leaders, including presidents and vice presidents from the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti, Chen said Taiwan hopes to sign bilateral FTAs as soon as possible to facilitate the expansion of commercial exchanges and economic cooperation.
Chen noted that two-way trade between Taiwan and Panama has increased significantly since their FTA took effect at the beginning of this year. Quoting official tallies, Chen said Panama's exports to Taiwan registered a fivefold gain in the first half of this year from the same period last year.