EU member countries on Tuesday next week are to hold their first forum in Taipei to pitch investment opportunities directly to Taiwanese companies, with the top EU envoy encouraging local businesses to play an important role in Europe’s post-pandemic economic development.
It is in the interest of Taiwanese companies to increase their presence in Europe, especially as global supply chains are being restructured due to the COVID-19 pandemic, European Economic and Trade Office (EETO) in Taiwan Director Filip Grzegorzewski said on Friday.
Companies around the world have drawn lessons from the COVID-19 crisis, Grzegorzewski said.
“We have to rethink global supply chains and the resilience of operations,” he said, adding that the EU does not want to be too dependent on one market or one source of raw materials.
Taiwan has the potential to become one of the EU’s top partners, especially in the auto, mobility, health, biotech, and information and communications technology sectors, which Taiwan champions, Grzegorzewski said.
In view of this, the EETO is to host the first-ever EU Investment Forum at the Taipei International Convention Center, with 15 EU member states participating, he said.
All EU members with a presence in Taiwan are to participate, including Poland, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy and Slovakia, he said.
The forum would use videoconferencing to connect investment agencies from those countries with potential investors in Taiwan, enabling them to interact on various topics, including business incentives, Grzegorzewski said, adding that the forum is an important milestone in Taiwan-EU relations.
The EU is a single market with 450 million consumers and Taiwanese investors can benefit from the free flow of capital, goods, people and services within the bloc, not to mention the quality of life in Europe, he said.
The EU last year was the biggest investor in Taiwan, accounting for about 25 percent of the nation’s foreign direct investment, according to EETO data.
However, only 1.7 percent of Taiwanese investments abroad go to the EU, the data showed.
Considering Taiwan’s economic strengths, it has the potential to be a global presence and the European market presents untapped potential for it, Grzegorzewski said.
“We have 41 trade agreements across the globe that cover 72 countries. So, once you put an investment in Europe, you get access to not only the whole market of the EU, you can reach out to the rest of the world easily,” he said.
Although it is easier for Taiwanese investors to go to Southeast Asia or China due to their geographical proximity, Grzegorzewski said that investing in Europe is not particularly difficult and brings with it a lot of benefits.
“By getting closer to consumers, by getting access to a highly educated workforce and by getting access to a market with the same standards, you cut costs,” he said, adding that Taiwan does not have to rely on cheap labor in neighboring countries because its industries are no longer labor-intensive.
Regarding the prospect of a trade agreement between the EU and Taiwan, Grzegorzewski said it would depend on the new trade strategy under development in the EU.
However, the more momentum there is in economic relations between the EU and Taiwan, including business investments, the easier it would be for the two sides to move on to the next phase of negotiations on trade deals, he added.
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