The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will seek ways to amend legislation to release additional incentives for local businesspeople to invest in countries that do not have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) said.
The ministry will also update its offices abroad about President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) new focus on bolstering the nation’s economic viability, he said.
Speaking at the annual spring banquet for diplomats on Thursday night, Ma said the global economic slump meant that the ministry had to shoulder a new mission by boosting Taiwan’s diplomatic strength as well as its economic muscle.
Ma urged the foreign ministry to help Taiwanese businesses find new opportunities abroad and fortify the nation’s economic ties with the international community.
Taiwan will also place more emphasis on offering foreign aid to countries in need, he said.
In an interview with Central News Agency, Ou said that, given the global financial crisis and the detente with China, Taiwan had to improve bilateral cooperation with other countries, especially in Southeast Asia.
To accommodate the need for more people with financial know-how, the ministry would increase training opportunities in the trade and commerce fields, and might also including questions on financial topics in its entrance examinations, he said.
The government’s foreign policy does not end with cementing ties with its existing allies, but also includes strengthening links with non-allies in the absence of official relations, he said.
He said foreign services personnel should strive to build a strong network of friends in local industry and create a lucrative investment environment in foreign countries to pique local investors’ interest after assessing the potential and risks of each country.
Currently, the ministry offers incentives for Taiwanese investors in only a few selected ally countries, Ou said, promising to find ways to amend the policy by expanding incentive programs to investments in non-ally nations.
A senior ministry official, who was speaking on the condition of anonymity, said promoting economic relations has always been a priority for the ministry and that the government could act as a matchmaker between Taiwanese businesspeople and the foreign industries to bolster trade.
“The importance of the ministry would diminish if it dealt only with political issues,” the official said. “The government does not have to spend an exorbitant amount of money. What we can do is be the conduit between Taiwanese investors and foreign businesses.”
Jasmine Huggins, the charge d’affaires for St Kitts and Nevis, said her country welcomes Taiwanese investors and, depending on the type of business, her government offers corporate tax holidays ranging from 10 to 15 years.
Huggins added that some investors could also enjoy full exemption from import duty for parts and raw materials.
Czech Republic representative Jaroslav Dolecek said his country, as well as all of Europe, welcomes Taiwanese cooperation in joint projects in various fields including science and technology.
Dolecek said his country also offers an array of tax deductions and grants for foreign investors.