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  • President Ma meets delegation from the European Parliament
  • Date
2012/04/27
President Ma meets delegation from the European Parliament. President Ma Ying-jeou meets delegation from the European Parliament. President Ying-jeou Ma meets delegation from the European Parliament.
President Ma Ying-jeou met on the afternoon of April 27 with a delegation from the European Parliament, including Vice Presidents Laszlo Surjan and Oldrich Vlasak. The president, on behalf of the government and people of the ROC, extended a cordial welcome to the two parliamentary vice presidents and also expressed his appreciation to the European Parliament for passing resolutions in May of last year supporting observer status for Taiwan in important international organizations. At the same time, the president again urged the European Union (EU) and EU member states to sign economic cooperation agreements with Taiwan in order to forge joint prosperity.

The president stated that the EU is Taiwan's fourth largest trading partner, while Taiwan is the EU's 15th largest trading partner, with bilateral trade last year topping US$52.5 billion, or 8.9% of Taiwan's external trade. In addition, trade with the EU last year grew 8% from the previous year. Moreover, the president remarked that European companies have total investments in Taiwan exceeding US$30 billion, which comprises 30% of aggregate foreign investment in Taiwan and constitutes Taiwan's single largest source of foreign investment.

In addition to the strong growth in trade between the two sides, the president also mentioned that the EU states that are party to the Schengen Agreement on January 11, 2011 formally began providing visa-free courtesies to Taiwan travelers, which has resulted in a considerable increase in tourists from Taiwan to Europe. For instance, the number of visits to Europe made by Taiwan nationals from March of last year to March of this year increased 47.3% year-on-year. This, he said, is helping to further promote closer interaction in the areas of culture, environmental protection, and science and technology between the two sides.

President Ma stressed that since he took office, the EU and the European Parliament have jointly issued or passed 16 statements and resolutions supporting Taiwan's participation in international organizations. Meanwhile, the European Parliament on May 11 of last year passed a motion to support the signing of an economic cooperation agreement between the EU and Taiwan, as well as observer status for Taiwan in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and the World Health Organization (WHO), the president stated.

Looking ahead, he said, Taiwan and mainland China have already signed the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), under which the percentage of tariff-free products has risen from 14% last year to 94% this year. President Ma pointed out that if European companies continue to invest in Taiwan, in the future the items that they export from Taiwan to mainland China will enjoy tariff-free treatment. Consequently, he urged the EU and its member states to give serious consideration to signing economic cooperation agreements with Taiwan in order to help create greater economic prosperity between the two sides.

In addition to European Parliament Vice Presidents Laszlo Surjan and Oldrich Vlasak, also in the delegation was Member of Parliament Csaba Ory. The group was accompanied to the Presidential Office in the afternoon by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ssu-Tsun Shen (沈斯淳) and James Lee (李光章), Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of European Affairs, to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting was National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Chih-kung Liu (劉志攻).
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