After 11 years of participation in the WTO, Taiwan finally has a representative office of its own in the organization, which is also the country’s first non-rental office in Europe.
“Taiwan finally has a home in Geneva,” Representative to the WTO Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said.
The new office, located not far from downtown Geneva, has three stories, with the first and second serving as offices, and a large conference room on the third floor. The building is also close to the representative offices of the US and France to the WTO.
Lai said that Taiwan has spent a lot of money renting office space since it joined the WTO in 2002. With rental charges in Geneva on the rise, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to purchase property rather than renting.
The new office is a significant step, Lai said, because it will help the staff further devote themselves to WTO work. The NT$800 million (US$26.71 million) purchase, made in February last year, is expected to save at least NT$60 million in rent per year, according to statistics compiled by the National Audit Office.
According to a report submitted by the audit office in late 2011, Taiwan owned less than 20 percent of its representative offices in foreign countries, with a budget of NT$1.3 billion allocated for renting such offices around the world. The ministry has decided to buy more office space.