Sun, Jan 15, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Tsai signals shift in approach to allies

MUTUAL BENEFITS:Tsai said that her administration would propose a new trade policy for the region in an effort to base bilateral diplomatic ties on stronger trade exchanges

Staff Writer, with CNA

People wait for President Tsai Ing-wen’s arrival in Burlingame, California, on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

Taiwan’s model of assisting its diplomatic allies is to shift from one-way assistance to a bilateral model, in order to help allies’ economic and social development, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said on Friday in El Salvador at a breakfast with Taiwanese reporters.

Taiwan should think about promoting diplomacy in new ways, including focusing on bilateral cooperation rather than simply providing aid to allies, she said.

Tsai said that during her visit to Central America, which took her to Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala and ended in El Salvador, she discovered that the countries are hoping to boost their economic development, following periods of political turmoil.

The countries are also making an effort to improve their infrastructure, education and public health, she said, adding that Honduras has sent many delegations to learn more about Taiwan’s National Health Insurance program and other social welfare systems.

Bilateral cooperation should also include strengthening bilateral trade and expanding market presence, Tsai said, adding that her visit brought her to the realization that promoting marketplace cooperation can create mutually beneficial results.

There might be opportunities for cooperation between Taiwan and its Central and South American allies, for example by taking advantage of the South and Central American, North American and Asian markets, Tsai said.

The visit was Tsai’s second overseas trip since she took office in May last year. She visited Panama and Paraguay in June last year.

Tsai said that after the two visits, her government would propose a new trade policy for the region in an effort to base bilateral diplomatic ties on stronger trade exchanges.

She said Taiwan would organize visits to Central America by Taiwanese business delegations and industry and market experts to explore investment and trade opportunities.

Tsai also noted the importance of talent and said she hoped to increase the number of scholarships available for students from diplomatic allies to study in Taiwan, adding that Taiwan is planning to encourage young Taiwanese to work with young foreigners to launch start-up companies.

Her administration would continue to provide assistance to its allies for infrastructure and public health and would also seek a feasible commercial model of cooperation on infrastructure projects, she said.

Earlier on Friday, she met Salvadorean President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, from whom she received a medal.

Tsai expressed gratitude for the honor, saying it represented the two nations’ close friendship.

At a joint news conference following the talks, Tsai reiterated her administration’s commitment to furthering cooperation between the governments and the people of the two nations, and increasing efforts to advance bilateral trade.

Ceren said that both nations have deepened their cooperative relationship through projects in effect until 2019 that cover education, technology, children’s welfare, tourism, energy and disaster prevention.

He said there is potential for bilateral trade growth and expressed the hope that the two nations would make better use of their free-trade agreement to advance exports and imports.

Commenting on their relations, Ceren said that both nations maintain a friendly relationship, adding that Tsai plays an important role in continuing to deepen bilateral ties.

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