The government will continue to push for a working holiday program with France, regardless of the outcome of that country’s presidential election, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.
Taiwan will approach the members of the new French Cabinet to discuss the proposal after the election is settled, Department of European Affairs Director--General James Lee (李光章) said.
Lee’s remarks came shortly after France finished its first round of presidential voting, with early results showing Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande in the lead over French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The two men face a run-off vote on May 6.
Lee told reporters on the sidelines of a legislative session that Sarkozy’s second-place finish in the first round reflected the French people’s awareness of emerging economic problems, such as the country’s soaring unemployment rate.
However, Lee said a working holiday program with Taiwan should not affect France’s employment market because the two sides could approve an equal number of openings for youth every year.
Taiwan has been trying for years to reach a working holiday agreement with France, which has such arrangements with Canada, Japan, South Korea, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Germany.
Taiwan is among the countries, including those in Central and South America, interested in making France a working holiday destination for young people. French administrative officials had indicated that it would be better if Taiwan waited until after the election to raise the issue, Lee said, adding that the French foreign ministry supported the idea.
Meanwhile, Taiwan announced it would revise regulations that impose restrictions on the employment of foreign graduates.
Foreign students are presently subject to employment restrictions placed on foreign white-collar workers, which require individuals seeking jobs in Taiwan to have at least two years of related work experience and be paid a minimum of NT$47,971 a month, Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) told a legislative hearing.
“The restrictions will be loosened by revising the law in the future,” she said at a joint hearing of the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes and the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene committees.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) called for the relaxation of the restrictions, regarded as a major obstacle to attracting foreign talent.