President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday expressed his gratitude to the European Parliament for its resolutions in favor of Taiwan, including its support for Taiwan’s efforts to gain observer status in international organizations.
During a meeting at his office with a visiting delegation from the European Parliament, Ma also thanked the parliament for approving Taiwan’s inclusion in the EU visa-waiver program.
Thanks to the EU’s decision, which took effect on Jan. 11, the number of countries that Taiwanese can visit visa-free has risen to 97, he said.
This should boost the number of Taiwanese travelers to Europe, Ma told the delegation, which was headed by European Parliament-Taiwan Friendship Group vice chairman Wolfgang Kreissl-Dorfle.
“Our people are particularly good at shopping,” he said.
The president said that since he assumed office in May 2008, the EU has sealed 12 Taiwan-friendly resolutions, including one that supported Taiwan’s bid to participate as an observer in activities under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN-affiliated International Civil Aviation Organization.
He said that the EU had invested US$12 billion in Taiwan.
Last year, bilateral trade rose 30 percent to US$48.6 billion from US$37 billion the previous year, which was a record-high growth, Ma said.
The growth is likely to continue as more European businesses may be encouraged to set up their regional headquarters in Taiwan following the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), giving them easier access to China, the president said.
Ma said he hoped Taiwan and the EU would build closer bilateral trade and economic ties.
The six-member European Parliament delegation is visiting through Friday at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.