President Tsai Ing-wen met with European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) Chairman Giuseppe Izzo on the morning of February 3. She once again called on relevant agencies of the UN to acknowledge the right to health of the Taiwanese people. Especially since Taiwan is on the front line in dealing with the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, she said, it should not become a gap in the global disease prevention and control system. The president gave special thanks to the European Union (EU) for expressing support for Taiwan's inclusion in the World Health Organization (WHO). Taiwan is certainly able and willing to make important contributions to the international community in global disease prevention, she stated.
A translation of the president's remarks follows:
As we continue to celebrate the Lunar New Year festival, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to the Presidential Office. I wish you all the best in the Year of the Rat. I also hope that trade relations between Taiwan and the EU will continue to prosper this year and that our bilateral cooperation will become even closer.
The ECCT has been the most important driver in strengthening trade cooperation between Taiwan and the EU. Last year, the ECCT had over 400 institutional members for the first time, and over 900 individual members. This shows that exchanges between Taiwan and the EU are becoming more and more robust. Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate Chairman Izzo and the two vice chairmen on their successful reelection. I am sure that under your leadership, the ECCT will enjoy another year of outstanding success and growth.
In recent years, Taiwan-EU cooperation has produced significant results in all areas, especially trade. In 2018, our bilateral trade reached a record high. Foreign direct investment from European businesses in Taiwan has also grown considerably over the past three years.
Offshore wind energy offers an excellent example of our fruitful cooperation. Our efforts in this sector have driven critical infrastructure construction and bolstered overall development of the renewable energy industry. On behalf of our government, I want to thank all sectors of the EU for their staunch support of Taiwan's renewable energy policies.
I trust that such cooperation will create even closer Taiwan-EU links and pave the way for constructive dialogue on the signing of a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) between our two sides.
Chairman Izzo's contributions to Taiwan are very much appreciated. In December 2019, you led a delegation to Brussels for the ECCT Open Door Mission, urging the EU to initiate the process of signing a BIA with Taiwan as soon as possible. I thank you for your strong backing of Taiwan. I look forward to continuing to work together with the ECCT to deepen our partnership with the EU and create a win-win situation for both sides.
Currently, the impact of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is being felt worldwide. In preparation for the potential economic impact, I have already asked the government to take measures to stabilize the stock and foreign exchange markets. We will also provide necessary assistance and bailout measures to affected travel and tourism industries, in the hope of minimizing the impact of the outbreak. We are also closely observing the impact of the outbreak on Taiwan's overall economy and the global economy and will take appropriate measures.
The WHO and the International Civil Aviation Organization, two key UN agencies for epidemic prevention, still exclude Taiwan from the global disease prevention system due to political factors.
I call on relevant agencies of the UN to acknowledge the right to health of the Taiwanese people. Disease prevention is a global issue. As Taiwan is on the frontline in dealing with this outbreak, it should not become a gap in the global disease prevention and control system.
We appreciate that the EU has come out in support of Taiwan's inclusion in the WHO. Taiwan is certainly able and willing to make important contributions to the international community in global disease prevention.
In closing, I would like to once again wish you all every success and the best of health in the new year. I hope we can take Taiwan-EU relations to the next level. Thank you!
Also present at the meeting was ECCT Chief Executive Officer Freddie Höglund.