FTA talks to start ‘soon’
Taiwan will officially begin free-trade talks with New Zealand “in the near future,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, following the recent completion of a joint feasibility study into a bilateral economic cooperation agreement. However, a specific timetable for the talks was not mentioned in the press statement released by the ministry. “The ministry hopes that negotiations will be smooth and bring concrete results,” it said, adding that the pact is bound to benefit and further expand Taiwan-New Zealand economic relations. In an interview earlier this month, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said the highly anticipated talks could be launched “by the end of May.”
Orchids go to Chelsea
Taiwan will present locally produced orchids with a dragon theme at the Chelsea Flower Show in London to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee and the upcoming London Olympic Games, according to a Taiwanese orchid association. Some orchid petals will look like the golden scales of a dragon, said Tseng Chun-pi (曾俊弼), secretary of the Taiwan Orchid Growers Association and head of Taiwan’s delegation to the show. Small sky lanterns wrapped in traditional Hakka flower cloth will accompany the dragon orchids as symbols of the country, Tseng said. “The beautiful orchids are blessings we have brought from Taiwan,” he said, adding that 20,000 orchids of 50 varieties will be presented this year. The 99th annual Chelsea Flower Show, recognized as the Oscars of the horticultural world, will run from Tuesday until May 26. The show has been a success in showcasing Taiwan’s orchid industry: Moth orchid exports to the UK increased from US$980,000 in 2009 to US$2.53 million in 2010, with the figure rising to US$3.52 million last year.
Taiwanese cleared of fraud
Philippine prosecutors yesterday dismissed a case against 72 Taiwanese allegedly involved in a fraud ring. Davao City prosecutors said there was “insufficient evidence” to prove that the suspects used electronic equipment seized in a police raid on illegal telecommunications operations. Prosecutors also threw out charges leveled by police such as breaching the Philippines’ Electronic Commerce Act and illegal possession of firearms. Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau and Philippine police authorities apprehended the 72 Taiwanese suspects, along with six Chinese suspects, in an April 18 raid on three phone fraud operation sites in Davao City. The six Chinese suspects have since been released. Immigration authorities in the Philippines said they would seek to have the Taiwanese nationals deported.