E-visas boost tourism
A free electronic visa application service for Hong Kong and Macau visitors has helped boost tourism figures in Taiwan, the National Immigration Agency said yesterday. As of yesterday, 1,202,523 Hong Kong or Macau travelers had visited Taiwan on e-visas since the new system was launched Sept. 1, 2010, according to agency statistics. In 2009, when there was no e-visa service and the visa-handling fee was NT$300 (US$10), 488,496 travelers from the two regions visited Taiwan, the statistics showed. The number of visitors grew to 606,293 in 2010 and 696,657 last year, the agency said. Despite a loss of NT$90 million in application fees, the growth in visitor numbers benefited the local economy, with each traveler spending an average of NT$28,000 during a stay that lasted four days on average, it added.
TIFA talks urged
Taiwan’s representative office in the US has asked the US to resume long-stalled trade talks after the legislature passed an amendment to a food safety act to relax a ban on imports of US beef containing ractopamine residue. The representative office called the Office of the US Trade Representative to convey the hope that long-stalled talks could be restarted on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The talks have been stalled since 2007 due to the beef dispute. “Taiwan hopes talks can be resumed as soon as possible to further Taiwan-US trade relations and create favorable conditions for Taiwan to integrate into regional trade and economy,” an official with the office said. US officials have repeatedly said that the beef dispute was the only hurdle hindering a resumption of the talks.
Diaoyutai concerns raised
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said it has conveyed its concern to Japan over reported plans to nationalize the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in the East China Sea, and has reiterated Taiwan’s sovereignty over the island group. Following reports that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said his administration planned to acquire some of the islands from private owners, Taiwan’s representative office in Japan expressed its concern to the Japanese government about such a development, the ministry said. Taiwan has asked Japan to refrain from such action, as it would compromise relations between them, said Su Qi-cheng (蘇啟誠), deputy secretary-general of the ministry’s Association of East Asia Relations. Su said he would seek confirmation with Taiwan’s representative office of reports that Japanese lawmakers are planning to visit the Diaoyutais to demonstrate their country’s sovereignty over the island group.
Bosnia now visa-free
The visa-exemption privileges granted by the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina to Republic of China passport holders has taken effect, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday. Under the visa-free agreement that became effective on Tuesday, Taiwanese can now stay in the Balkan state for up to 90 days within a six-month period without a visa, the ministry said in statement. The new visa waiver arrangement, which was decided last month, is expected to further promote bilateral exchanges in areas such as trade, culture and technology, the statement added. Bosnia-Herzegovina is the 128th country or region to grant Taiwanese visa-free entry or landing visa privileges.