Ma calls on EU to negotiate economic cooperation pact

BOTH SIDES TO GAIN::A Taiwan-EU economic deal would help boost bilateral trade by more than US$13.6 billion every year, a think tank study said

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Jan 07, 2014 - Page 3

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called on the EU to again negotiate an economic cooperation agreement with Taiwan.

The nation has always aimed to enhance its economic and trade relations with the EU, which is currently the nation’s largest source of foreign investment and one of its major trading partners, Ma told a group of visiting Irish parliamentarians, led by Ireland Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Society chairman John McGuinness.

Citing a feasibility study by a Danish think tank, Ma said a Taiwan-EU economic cooperation agreement would help boost bilateral trade by more than 10 billion euros (US$13.6 billion) per year.

So far, the European Parliament has adopted more than 10 resolutions on the signing of such an agreement, the latest of which was passed on Oct. 10 last year..

Ma expressed his appreciation to the Irish members of the European Parliament for their support for Taiwan and urged the Irish government to continue to help promote Taiwan’s goal of signing an economic agreement with the EU.

He also congratulated Ireland on its exit from the EU-IMF bailout program on Dec. 15 last year, which signaled an improvement in the Irish economy.

Ma, who last visited Ireland in 2006 when he was mayor of Taipei, said he was deeply impressed with the atmosphere of political unity there.

He said it is the main reason Ireland has become one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe over the past decade.

Ties between the two countries reached a new level in recent years, as evidenced by Ireland’s visa-waiver treatment of Taiwanese — which took effect in 2009 — the two sides’ mutual recognition of driver licenses in 2010 and the launch of a reciprocal working holiday program last year, Ma said.

He proposed that the two sides negotiate an agreement on double taxation avoidance to protect their investors.