Fri, Jul 17, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Irish MPs visit Taiwan to encourage cooperation

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

With a visa waiver in place for Taiwanese travelers, Ireland is hoping to see more Taiwanese tourists and students, as well as enhanced bilateral cooperation in science and industry, Irish members of parliament (MPs) said yesterday.

Sean Ardagh, a member of the Irish parliament who is also chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, told a press conference in Taipei that Ireland and Taiwan have already initiated scientific projects to exploit ocean current energy and wind power.

“In addition to green energy, Taiwan’s strengths in hardware and Ireland’s capability in software may also lead to better cooperation,” the parliamentary member said.

Also citing the healthcare industry as a potential area of cooperation, Ardagh said that Ireland has a good foundation in pharmaceuticals, while Taiwan has a biotech industry with potential.

This “means the two countries can work together,” he said.

Ardagh, along with colleagues Christy O’Sullivan and Pat Breen, were invited by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to visit Taiwan for around one week.

The delegation has already signed a memorandum of understanding to promote bilateral exchanges in small firms.

Commenting on the new visa waiver privilege that Ireland granted to Taiwanese, the MPs said this effort would help increase two-way travel and the willingness of Taiwanese students to study in Ireland.

Compared with the UK, which attracts 15,000 Taiwanese students, Ardagh said the number of Taiwanese students in Ireland “can be counted with figures.”

He said he hoped that the number of Taiwanese travelers in Ireland would increase because of the visa waiver program, which went into effect on July 1, while the better accessibility of Ireland for Taiwanese people may also induce more Taiwanese in the UK to visit his country.

MOFA said the number of Taiwanese travelers in the UK had increased six-fold after the country granted visa-free privilege to Taiwanese people in March this year.

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