US bill pushes ICAO status

UP AND AWAY::The nation’s membership of the global organization is long overdue, say the bill’s backers, who cite Taiwan’s high volume of cargo and passenger flights

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 - Page 3

A bill calling for Taiwan to be awarded observer status in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was introduced to the US House of Representatives and the US Senate on Thursday.

China’s opposition has kept Taiwan out of the ICAO, but Congressional sources now appear confident that observer status will be granted before the end of this year.

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and in the House by Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, a California Republican.

It directs US Secretary of State John Kerry to “develop and implement” a plan to obtain ICAO status for Taiwan.

“Taiwan is one of the world’s major air passenger and cargo markets, and it provides air traffic control services for over 1.2 million flights per year,” Menendez said.

Granting Taiwan observer status at ICAO assemblies would ensure that Taipei has access to the technical information it needs to conform its civil aviation practices to evolving international safety standards, Menendez said.

“This will help guarantee the safety of travelers and airlines, from America and Taiwan alike, as well as others in Asia and around the globe,” he added.

“For too long, Taiwan has been excluded from international organizations,” Royce said.

Royce said the bill should secure Taiwan’s entry into the ICAO’s triennial assembly, to be held in September in Montreal, Canada.

If passed, the bill will require Kerry to actively seek other ICAO member states’ support for Taiwan’s participation.