On the morning of November 9, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation of the Belgian Parliament's Belgium-Taiwan Friendship Group. In addition to thanking the Belgian Parliament for its long-term support for Taiwan, she also expressed hope for further enhancement of cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and Belgium.
In remarks, President Tsai stated that two co-chairs led the delegation, with some representatives making their first visit to Taiwan. Over the past three years, 47 Belgian federal and regional parliamentarians have visited Taiwan. That's an all-time high, so Taiwan-Belgium relations are definitely on the upswing.
The president pointed out that the Belgian Chamber of Representatives already passed several resolutions supporting Taiwan, including one praising Taiwan's efforts to maintain regional peace and stability. More importantly, the Chamber has advocated that the EU sign a bilateral investment agreement with Taiwan, and supports Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations. Taiwan and Belgium are both democracies, so freedom and human rights are not just universal values, but our common language, and the important foundation of our friendship, the president said.
President Tsai mentioned that the EU is currently Taiwan's fifth-largest trading partner, and Belgium is our sixth-largest trading partner within the EU. Taiwan is currently promoting a "5+2 Industrial Innovation Program," which includes green energy, biotech and the pharmaceutical industry, which are all important industries in Belgium.
Turning to Taiwan-Belgium relations, the president said that Taiwan and Belgium's Flanders signed a memorandum of understanding on sustainable energy cooperation this past October. Last week, the 15 biotech firms and research institutes in the Taiwan Biotechnology Delegation also visited Belgium. These cooperative efforts show that we have much potential for greater cooperation, President Tsai said, adding that she is confident that we'll create more business opportunities for the both sides.
The president further expressed confidence that Taiwan-Belgium relations will benefit if Taiwan and the EU sign a bilateral investment agreement. She then said she hopes that the delegation members will continue to promote bilateral trade when they return home.
President Tsai told the visitors that Taiwan remains committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and released its first Voluntary National Review this year. She also mentioned her just concluded state visit to our diplomatic allies in the Pacific, and said that the Taiwan government has adjusted some of our international cooperation projects to accommodate sustainable development goals. These efforts, the president stated, demonstrate that Taiwan is willing and able to contribute to international society. She then expressed hope that the visiting parliamentarians will continue supporting Taiwan's international participation so that we can make more contributions to the world.
In closing, President Tsai said that the delegation has a rather full itinerary for this trip, including discussions with various government agencies, and some site visits. So she wished them great success, and hoped that they will experience the warmth and goodwill of Taiwan.
The visiting delegation was led by MPs Peter Luykx and Georges Dallemagne, Co-Chairs of the Belgium-Taiwan Friendship Group.