Tue, Nov 21, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Ministry to reassign staff from six shuttered offices

STRATEGY:The foreign ministry plans to focus on sending diplomatic personnel to Papua New Guinea, which is to host the next APEC summit

By Lu Yi-hsuan and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to reassign personnel from the six embassies and overseas offices that were closed this year to the nations targeted by the government’s New Southbound Policy, including Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The ministry said that staff would also be transferred to the embassies in Guatemala, the Solomon Islands, El Salvador, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Holy See, Kiribati, Belize and Taiwan’s other diplomatic allies.

Papua New Guinea will also be a focus for redirecting diplomatic personnel, as it would be hosting the next APEC summit, it added.

According to an evaluation report by the Legislative Yuan’s Budget Center, personnel would be reallocated according to the needs and overall strategy of the nation’s diplomacy.

The report also said that an original budget of NT$192.73 million (US$6.4 million) would also be reallocated once the offices close.

Taiwan closed six embassies and overseas offices this year due to the termination of diplomatic ties with Sao Tome and Principe and Panama, and plans to merge some offices.

The ministry last year proposed to close overseas offices in Libya, Guam, Jeddah and Norway, citing a cost-effectiveness evaluation of the nation’s diplomatic resources.

The representative office in Libya was closed in January, the administrative office in Jeddah ended operations in July, the administrative office in Guam last month merged with the embassy in Palau, and the representative office in Norway ended operations at the end of September.

Taiwan has not made significant moves to close overseas offices since former minister of foreign affairs Francisco Ou’s (歐鴻鍊) term in 2009, during which offices in Johannesburg, Venezuela, Bolivia and Bangladesh were closed.

Since then, only the embassy in the Gambia has been closed since it severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 2013, and the Kansas office has been moved to Denver, Colorado.

The other changes in offices abroad have all been new additions due to increasing number of Taiwanese businesspeople overseas. This includes the addition of offices in Chennai, India, in 2011, in Surabaya, Indonesia, in 2015 and in Myanmar last year.

Taiwan has 114 offices abroad: 20 embassies, two consulates, 55 representative offices, 36 administrative offices and one foreign mission. There are no plans for further adjustments next year, sources said.

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