The recently signed cross-strait trade pact could boost the chances of a Taiwan-EU free-trade agreement (FTA), but the proposal would have to first move past the drawing board, an economic expert said on the sidelines of an international conference on China’s rise in Taipei yesterday.
“It will give a stronger political logic for the EU to sign an FTA with Taiwan,” said Razeen Sally, a director at the European Centre of International Political Economy (ECIPE), a Brussels-based research group.
“Simply signing an FTA with Taiwan by [itself] would not work for the EU, because Taiwan is too small of an economy and it will hardly make any difference to the EU,” he said. “Of course, it might risk upsetting Beijing in the process.”
The government signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China late last month, saying that it hoped other trading partners would follow suit and sign FTAs with Taiwan in the face of improving cross-strait ties.
However, recent comments by Chinese officials on the issue have sent mixed signals on whether Beijing would relax its staunch opposition to Taiwan engaging in trade talks with other countries.
Late last month, Taiwan Affairs Office director Wang Yi (王毅) reportedly said that China could understand Taiwan’s need to sign FTAs with other countries on the basis of economic expansion.
However, a few weeks earlier, Ma Zhaoxu (馬朝旭), a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, told a press conference that China would continue to stand against Taiwanese efforts to develop any type of official economic agreement along with other countries.
“Taiwan wants FTAs with other trading partners — [but] it isn’t going to happen without a Chinese green light ... The ECFA is this green light, and in this sense perhaps ECFA and other FTAs are linked,” Sally said.
However, he said that for the moment, a Taiwan-EU trade deal was “not even on the radar screen.”
The EU needed to be satisfied on two fronts before it would consider signing an FTA with Taiwan, he said.
“Firstly that it won’t upset Beijing — this is where the ECFA comes into play. Second is that the ECFA will become a foundation for Taiwan to be more integrated into the greater China supply chain,” Sally said. “Then there might be a stronger commercial reason to sign an FTA with Taiwan.”
Following the ECFA, Taiwan could be used as a hub for high-value trade and investment for both the Chinese market and the wider East Asian market, he said, adding that this would give EU businesses more incentive to set up in Taiwan.
PIVOTAL ROLE: Taiwan’s importance in the global chip supply chain can be bolstered by domestic equipment manufacturing, President Tsai Ing-wen said Efforts must be made to better secure Taiwan’s place in the global supply chain by localizing production of equipment and facilities used by the semiconductor industry, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. Tsai discussed the issue during a meeting with representatives from the Taiwan Electronic Equipment Industry Association at the Presidential Office in Taipei. Product shortages throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly of automotive chips — highlighted the pivotal role of Taiwan in the global supply chain, she said. Tsai thanked the association for cooperating with the government on the shared goal of localizing production of important semiconductor industry equipment.
Without completed infrastructure and training, the expedited sale of new F-16s from the US could become a burden rather than a help, a military official said yesterday. Reuters on Thursday last week reported that Washington is looking to accelerate the delivery of 66 new F-16C/D Block 70 aircraft in response to what it sees as increasing intimidation by Beijing. Under the terms of the original US$8 billion deal signed in 2019, the US is expected to deliver a single-seater and double-seater for testing next year, then deliver the 66 new aircraft in batches of four or five from 2024 to 2026. The officials
TRACING UNDER WAY: The CECC has identified six transmission chains among 25 recently confirmed COVID-19 cases, including those linked to a restaurant and a bank The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 54 new COVID-19 infections — 44 imported and 10 local — and identified six transmission chains among local cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the imported cases are 18 who tested positive upon arrival at the airport and 26 who tested positive during quarantine. Of the local cases, seven are associated with a cluster infection at a Tasty Steak (西堤牛排) outlet in Taoyuan’s Zhongli District (中壢), one is linked to a family of four with COVID-19 reported on Monday, one is a family member of an
BILINGUAL NATION 2030: Those interested can apply online, while recruitment would continue until all of the positions are filled, the Ministry of Education said The recruitment of foreign English teachers for elementary and junior-high schools would be expanded in the 2022-2023 school year as part of Taiwan’s efforts to become a bilingual country, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said yesterday. In a statement, the ministry said that it has since 2004 hired 81 foreign nationals per year to teach English in 16 smaller counties and cities to build a better English-learning environment for students. However, for the 2022-2023 school year, the number of foreign English teachers recruited would increase to 531, with some of them to be posted to Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan