The Canadian Trade Office in Tai-pei is committed to strengthening cultural and trade ties with Taiwan, one of the largest consumers of Canadian exports in Asia, the country's representative to Taipei said yesterday.
Gordon Houlden said his country would like to see a diversification of its trade in Asia. Taiwan, being Canada's fourth largest market in Asia and also eager to diversify its own trade, is a logical destination, he said.
Houlden, in an interview with reporters, said Canada would like to see its trade with Taiwan grow, particularly in the high-tech sector. The National Research Council Canada has cooperated with the National Science Council here to work on science and the commercialization of science, he said.
Canada welcomes Taiwanese to invest in its natural resources, given that Taiwan has considerable investment potential.
Such investment, said Houlden, would benefit both sides.
"I think there is a good mix between the two economies, some natural points, convergences, and some points of compatibility," he said.
Houlden, who became executive director of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei in September, has served in Havana, Beijing, Warsaw and Hong Kong. He speaks fluent Chinese and has lived in Asia for more than 20 years.
Although Canada has adhered to the "one China" policy since it established diplomatic relations with Beijing, Houlden said Ottawa believes that it is possible to develop wide range of contacts with Taiwan.
"Our `one China' policy does impose some limits on high-level exchanges. However, I believe there can be scope for exchanges, particularly in the economic sec-tor," he said.
Canada, like Taiwan, was deeply affected by the SARS epidemic last year, and has exchanged health officials with Taiwan.
* Taiwan is Canada's fourth largest market in Asia
* Canada is ranked fourth in foreign study destinations for Taiwanese students
* The National Research Council Canada has worked with the National Science Council on several projects, including the commercialization of science
* The two countries exchanged health officials to discuss last year's SARS epidemic
Houlden said Canada hopes to see the status of Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO) resolved in "a pragmatic and non-politicized process" that will allow health matters to be the focus of discussion in the health body.
"We also believe that Taiwan's lack of representation in the WHO should not prevent anyone from joining the systems and health matters that the WHO provides," he said.
Houlden said relations between Taiwan and Canada are much more sophisticated and multifaceted than was the case a couple of decades ago.
Canada now ranks fourth among foreign study destinations for Taiwanese students, after the US, UK and Australia and more than 12,000 people visited the Canadian Education Fair held in Taipei and Kaohsiung last month.
"I prefer to see the exchange of people, which gives real substance to relationship," Houlden said.