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President Tsai attends EU Investment Forum 2020  
President Tsai attends EU Investment Forum 2020  

While addressing the EU Investment Forum 2020 on the morning of September 22, President Tsai Ing-wen stated that Taiwan is ready to become one of the EU's top partners in the ICT, biotech, health and mobility sectors. She also expressed hope that Taiwan and the EU can negotiate a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) based on our solid existing foundation, moving our strong partnership forward.

A transcript of the president's remarks follows:

It is a great pleasure to be here, at Taiwan's very first EU Investment Forum. This is also the first time representatives from Taiwan and 15 EU member states have gathered together to create a platform for bilateral investment. And as Mr. [Filip] Grzegorzewski (Head of the European Economic and Trade Office) tells me, this is the most important Taiwan-EU event of the year.

Today's forum marks a new chapter in our trade and investment partnership, based on a solid foundation of collaboration. That includes investments in Taiwan to construct wind farms led by European companies, as well as investments by leading Taiwanese companies in Europe, like Giant and AUO.

Despite the uncertainty in the current global market, Taiwan has remained proactive in expanding international cooperation. Where others see volatility, we see opportunities for prosperity and building global partnerships. So, as the world experienced economic instability, we introduced our "Three Major Programs for Investing in Taiwan" to boost investor confidence. As of this month, this project has received 650 applications, attracted more than one trillion NT dollars in investment, and created more than 92,000 jobs.

Our efforts to encourage investment while containing the pandemic have kept our economy on track. While global economic growth is forecast to shrink by 5.1% in 2020, Taiwan has maintained an estimated growth rate of 1.56% for the year, the highest among the Four Asian Tigers.

Taiwan has created this robust investment environment not just to serve our domestic needs, but to build stronger international ties. Like the EU, we are encouraging mutually beneficial global partnerships by providing a fair and predictable business environment.

This approach has brought positive results. The UN World Investment Report 2020 estimated that FDI around the world would drop by 40% this year, but Taiwan's FDI from January to July this year was up 10.56% over last year. This shows that international enterprises see Taiwan as a safe and reliable investment environment.

Our friends in Europe must agree with this sentiment, as in 2019 Taiwan received over one trillion NT dollars in investment from the EU. This accounts for 25% of FDI in Taiwan, making the EU our top foreign investor.

More than having a great investment partnership, Taiwan and the EU share common values, such as freedom, democracy and the rule of law. These values and our complementary strengths have allowed us to develop strong business relationships.

We have seen these relationships blossom in the wind energy sector. And going forward, the EU's forward-looking strategy for "A Europe fit for the digital age", and Taiwan's leading ICT industry can be the basis for greater cooperation.

From AI and AI ethics to the information economy, from data protection and information security to 5G applications, there are so many opportunities for Taiwan and EU enterprises to work together, invest and innovate.

Our governments are supporting these efforts by developing platforms like the Taiwan-EU Dialogue on Digital Economy and the Industrial Policy Dialogue. In addition, Taiwan is now promoting Six Core Strategic Industries. That policy is designed to leverage our existing strengths, so that we can play a key role in the global supply chains of the future.

Our core strategic industries include the renewable energy and digital sectors, which match up well with European Commission President [Ursula] von der Leyen's political guidelines, giving us a roadmap for future collaboration. But there is still so much more we can do.

For instance, our post-pandemic partnership could include medical supply chains. Taiwanese businesses are well-equipped to work with their EU counterparts on high-end vaccine R&D and production, medical equipment and pandemic prevention supplies like face masks.

This is just one of many areas that would benefit from greater Taiwan-EU collaboration. Taiwan is ready to become one of the EU's top partners in the ICT, biotech, health and mobility sectors, all industries in which we excel.

But to receive those benefits, and ensure a more prosperous future, we must capitalize on the current circumstances.

By negotiating a BIA, our solid existing foundation can become the cornerstone of our future success. A BIA is the key to this success, and would help us all thrive in the digital age.

Taiwan and the EU have laid the groundwork for an even stronger partnership. Now, it is up to us to take it forward.

Today's forum is an excellent platform to prepare business and investment strategy for the digital age and beyond. I hope you will all take advantage of this opportunity and have a successful forum.

Among those attending the event were Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花), Head of the European Economic and Trade Office Filip Grzegorzewski, and Industrial Technology Research Institute President Edwin Liu (劉文雄).

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