The nation is to continue its efforts to strengthen bilateral economic ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific region and seek trade liberalization, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
Ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) made the remarks at a regular news briefing, amid reports of Chinese opposition to a Taiwan-Malaysia free-trade agreement (FTA).
Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang (黃惠康) openly expressed Beijing’s opposition to any move by Malaysia to sign an FTA with Taiwan.
The Chinese government has always maintained that Taiwan is part of China and would object to any official activity between Malaysia and Taiwan, including the signing of an FTA, Huang said during a question-and-answer session after delivering a speech at a Malaysian university on Tuesday, reports said.
Asked about the reports, John Lai (賴建中), director-general of the ministry’s Department of International Cooperation and Economic Affairs, said Malaysia is Taiwan’s eighth-largest economic partner.
Since Taiwan and Malaysia are both members of the APEC and the WTO, Lai said that strengthening bilateral economic ties would be beneficial to businesses in the two countries.
Trade liberalization is a global trend, the director-general added.
Taiwan is seeking to sign economic cooperation agreements with countries such as Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines, as part of efforts to strengthen its economic ties in the region.
The nation has already signed economic cooperation agreements with Singapore and New Zealand, as well as an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China.
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