The Australian Office in Taipei yesterday pledged to increase cooperation with Taiwan on energy development and biomedicine in the post-COVID-19 era with its “Rediscover Australia, Rediscover Taiwan” campaign.
The campaign aims to encourage Taiwanese and Australians to look at each other “afresh,” Australian Representative to Taiwan Gary Cowan told a news briefing in Taipei.
The campaign is to be officially launched at an event at the W Hotel in Taipei tomorrow, with senior officials expected to attend, the office said, as it looks ahead to the celebration of its 40th anniversary in October next year.
Despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Canberra and Taipei have sustained cooperation by exchanging medical supplies, such as masks and alcohol for sanitizer, while China Airlines has maintained flights to some destinations in Australia, Cowan said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday said that Canberra is considering easing border restrictions for people from low-risk countries, such as Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and some provinces in China, after not having new domestic cases for three days, Reuters reported.
As Australia’s travel bubble with New Zealand has worked well since its start last month, the country is mulling extending the mechanism to other low-risk countries, perhaps starting with Pacific Island nations, while Taiwan “is definitely in the conversation,” Cowan said when asked about the plan.
Bilateral cooperation in biotechnology and biomedicine is promising, as nearly 30 Taiwanese companies have conducted clinical tests of new products in Australia over the past three or four years, he added.
Australia is the biggest supplier of energy materials — mainly natural gas, iron ore and other minerals — to Taiwan, he said.
Over the past year, Taiwan imported 48 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas from Australia, up more than 30 percent than the previous year, and 16.5 million tonnes of iron ore, office data showed.
Canberra is eager to help Taiwan achieve an energy transition, with Australian firm the Macquarie Group being a leading developer in Taiwan’s offshore wind power industry, Cowan said.
Australia is aggressively developing hydrogen power for the next decade, and working with Japan, South Korea, Germany and Singapore to develop a hydrogen supply chain, he said, expressing the hope that Taiwanese businesses would join their efforts.
Asked for his evaluation of the regional situation after US president-elect Joe Biden enters the White House, Cowan quoted Morrison as saying that Canberra looks forward to working with Washington on global issues, such as developing vaccines, economic recovery, defending democracy and tackling climate change.
Morrison has also extended his thanks to US President Donald Trump’s administration, he added.
Asked if Canberra is concerned about China’s rising power in the region, Cowan said that Australia maintains a productive relationship with China, which is its trading partner as well as a vital actor in many global issues.
The 25th Australia-Taiwan Joint Energy and Minerals, Trade and Investment Cooperation Consultations event is to take place in Taipei today, followed by a hydrogen energy seminar on Nov. 24, the office said.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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