The EU would not rule out the possibility of signing a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) with Taiwan, even though it observes a “one China” policy, a European Commission official said on Tuesday.
The EU in 2015 included Taiwan in its list of trade partners for BIAs, but has not held negotiations on the issue since then, except to state in a trade policy report in September 2017 that it was preparing to hold investment talks with Taipei.
At a public hearing on EU-Taiwan trade relations held by the European Parliament Committee on International Trade, Peter Berz, head of relations with the Far East in the European Commission Directorate-General for Trade, was asked by a lawmaker if the reluctance to negotiate an agreement was the result of pressure from China.
Although the EU adheres to a “one China” policy, it would not rule out the possibility of forging such an accord with Taiwan, Berz said, adding that any such talks would require approval from the commission.
A joint panel set up by the two sides to address the issue has convened five times to date, which has helped the EU and Taiwan acquire deeper knowledge of each other’s investment policies, Berz said.
The public hearing was also attended by Bureau of Foreign Trade Director-General Yang Jen-ni (楊珍妮) and European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan chief executive Freddie Hoglund.
The EU is Taiwan’s largest source of foreign capital and its fifth-largest trade partner, while Taiwan is the EU’s sixth-largest trade partner in Asia, Ministry of Economic Affairs data showed.
In a news release yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it welcomed the hearing — the first ever held at the EU on the issue.
“Since 2015 ... the European Parliament has passed three resolutions supporting the signing of a Taiwan-EU bilateral investment agreement. This public hearing once again underscores its friendship and support to Taiwan,” it said, urging the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, to take concrete action to push for the inking of a BIA.
Additional reporting by Stacy Hsu
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