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President Ma meets Swedish delegation led by Chairperson Caroline Szyber of Swedish-Taiwanese Parliamentarian Association

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of December 14 with a delegation of Swedish parliamentarians led by Caroline Szyber, Chairperson of the Swedish-Taiwanese Parliamentarian Association (STPA). In addition to extending a cordial welcome, the president also expressed hope that Sweden will add further momentum to the existing economic and trade relationship by advocating the signing of a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) and an economic cooperation agreement (ECA) between Taiwan and the European Union (EU).

In remarks, President Ma noted that Chairperson Szyber has actively promoted bilateral relations between Taiwan and Sweden since being elected to the Swedish parliament in 2010, and the other STPA members have introduced proposals in parliament on many occasions over the years to urge the Swedish government to support Taiwan's participation in special-purpose United Nations bodies, and to support the signing of a BIA with Taiwan. The president expressed sincere gratitude for their efforts.

President Ma pointed out that despite its small population, Sweden has achieved notable development in such high-tech fields as aviation, nuclear power, auto manufacturing, weaponry, communications, and biomedicine. They are also a world leader in many newly emerging high-tech fields including information services, nanotechnology, automotive electronics, and green energy products.

Commenting on bilateral economic and trade ties, the president noted that Taiwan is Sweden's seventh-largest trading partner in Asia, while Sweden is Taiwan's largest trading partner in Scandinavia and eighth-largest in the EU. In addition, Sweden was one of the first European nations to conclude with Taiwan an Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income. The two nations also hold an annual Taiwan-Sweden Joint Business Council Meeting. This meeting, which has done much to spur further development of bilateral economic, trade, and investment ties, was held for the 31st time in 2015.

Turning to the subject of economic and trade ties between the EU and Taiwan, President Ma pointed out that the EU is Taiwan's fifth-largest trading partner, while Taiwan is the EU's sixth-largest export market in Asia, a clear indication of considerable economic and trade interdependence between the two sides. The president expressed hope that the STPA will continue helping Taiwan and the EU to sign a BIA and an ECA as soon as possible, and added that this will be a great boost to bilateral trade and investment.

President Ma then mentioned that the ROC government provides scholarships to outstanding foreign students and scholars to study or do research in Taiwan under the Taiwan Scholarship program, Huayu Enrichment Scholarship program, and similar programs. The president noted that 24 universities and institutes from Taiwan have signed 74 academic cooperation agreements with 20 universities from Sweden, and that over 100 students from Taiwan are studying there. He said that there is considerable room for development of bilateral academic cooperation.

President Ma also stated that the ROC has signed youth working holiday agreements with 14 countries including nine European nations such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Czech Republic. He expressed hope that the ROC and Sweden will sign an accord of this kind, thereby promoting interaction between young people from the two countries as well as cultural exchanges.

Discussing the subject of energy, President Ma noted that Sweden once adopted a no-nuclear policy, but then reversed the decision following a careful study of the matter. In particular, even after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011 triggered the Fukushima nuclear accident, Sweden remained steadfastly committed to the development of nuclear power, and is now making preparations for the construction of a high-level nuclear waste repository in order to ensure the safety of its nuclear power plants. The president expressed confidence that Sweden can address the issue of energy resources in a rational manner, paying due attention to green energy and renewable resources, even as it continues to develop nuclear power and finds an appropriate energy mix. "These are matters of great significance," he said.

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