Fri, Nov 10, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan needs a new plan for Africa: MOFA official

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

In the light of China's aggressive push into Africa, Taiwan should work to consolidate diplomatic ties with its African allies by helping to develop their economies, an official said yesterday.

"Instead of merely providing financial assistance to our allies, we should improve their business environments and lure Taiwanese companies to invest there," Bill Cho (卓士昭), director-general of the department of economic and trade affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the press.

China and 10 African countries signed a total of 16 trade deals worth US$1.9 billion during the China-Africa summit in Beijing last Saturday.

A large number of Africa's 53 states were represented in last week's meetings, including private sector representatives from Burkina Faso, Gambia, Malawi, Sao Tome and Principe and Swaziland -- ?countries that recognize Taiwan.

Through their diplomatic ties with Taiwan, these African countries hoped to attract investment to the region. But the poor condition of their economies result in few Taiwanese enterprises choosing to invest there, regardless of incentives provided by the government, Cho said.

To better encourage investment in Africa and so consolidate diplomatic relations, the government should help build infrastructure such as highways and ports to facilitate trade, Cho said.

The government should also attempt to identify niche industries and help to develop them, Cho said.

Taipei should also negotiate with insurance companies to insure Taiwanese properties in Africa in the event of wars or riots, Cho said.

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