Representative to India James Tien (田中光) is to focus his efforts on building a platform to advance trade relations between Taiwan and India after he formally assumes his duties later this month.
In a recent interview in Taipei, Tien said that advancing bilateral trade relations would be one of his priorities in his new position, with the information technology sector one area targeted for expanded cooperation with the emerging economic power.
The platform is also to extend to discussion of an economic cooperation agreement between Taiwan and India.
A feasibility study on the pact is expected to be finalized early this year and the issue will become a main focus, said Tien, who is scheduled to depart for India in the middle of this month.
In an earlier interview, India’s envoy to Taiwan, Pradeep Kumar Rawat, said his country’s growing market for agricultural and processed food products represents a big opportunity for Taiwanese companies.
Rawat also suggested that Taiwan and India take advantage of their complementary strengths in hardware and software to launch information technology products, saying that India’s huge human resources could help Taiwanese companies design new products.
On the issue of visa-free privileges, Tien said that “both sides have exchanged views to understand each other’s needs.”
The Indian government has agreed to make it more convenient for people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, Tien said, but he indicated that further discussions on the issue of granting visa-free treatment or landing visas would be needed.
Noting that Taiwan’s government is committed to seeking visa-exemption privileges or landing visas from other countries to allow Taiwanese more convenient overseas travel, Tien said he would continue to pursue visa-waiver treatment from India.
Republic of China passport holders now enjoy visa-free treatment or landing visas in about 130 countries and territories, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Asked about cultural exchanges between Taiwan and India, Tien said this would also be an area where further cooperation is pursued.
“It will help both sides to understand each other better,” he said.
To promote bilateral cultural exchanges, Tien said cooperation should “start with things people like,” such as movies and music.
Mumbai-based Bollywood, for example, is one of the world’s leaders in the film industry, Tien said.
The 3D Hollywood blockbuster Life of Pi, directed by Taiwan-born director Ang Lee (李安), serves as an example of how Taiwan and India could increase cultural exchanges, he said.
Seventy percent of the film, which explores issues of faith through the tale of a shipwrecked Indian boy adrift on a lifeboat alone with a Bengal tiger, was shot in Taiwan.
Tien, the former director-general of the ministry’s Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was appointed as representative to India in November to fill the post vacated by Ong Wen-chyi (翁文琪), who retired.