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President Tsai addresses 2021 EU Investment Forum
President Tsai addresses 2021 EU Investment Forum

On the afternoon of October 14, President Tsai Ing-wen addressed the opening of the 2021 EU Investment Forum via video. In her remarks, President Tsai noted that Taiwan and the European Union share the values of democracy, freedom, the rule of law, and human rights, and said this makes Taiwan a reliable and natural partner for the European Union in areas including regional security, economic partnership, trade, and investment. The president also said that talks on a bilateral investment agreement would mark the beginning of an even more concrete partnership.

A transcript of President Tsai's remarks follows:

It is my pleasure to join you all again at this year's EU Investment Forum. Before I begin, I would like to take this opportunity to thank European Union member states Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia for extending their helping hands to Taiwan by donating life-saving vaccines.

I believe this virtuous cycle of mutual support will enable us to continue to combat the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate economic recovery as we move toward the post-pandemic era.

Last year, Taiwan and the European Union co-organized the first EU Investment Forum. More than 1,400 participants joined the Forum virtually and physically. And this inaugural EU Investment Forum resulted in quite a few achievements.

For example, since last September, Taiwanese investment in the European Union has reached a historic high of 4.5 billion Euros. At the same time, Europe's accumulated foreign direct investment (FDI) in Taiwan now exceeds 49 billion US dollars, making the European Union Taiwan's largest source of FDI. We are also witnessing the most significant growth of investment in our offshore wind power industry.

The EU identified green energy and the digital economy as two pillars of its economic recovery plan. These two pillars complement the Six Core Strategic Industries that Taiwan is promoting. Through collaboration, these industries can assist the acceleration of economic recovery as the world regains its footing after the pandemic.

Furthermore, on September 16th, for the first time, the EU included Taiwan explicitly in its joint communication on the Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. In the joint communication, the EU pledges to strengthen cooperation with Taiwan in semiconductors, information and communications technology, data protection, and other strategic industries. The joint communication also states that partners such as Taiwan have adopted and put in place modern data protection laws. And this would pave the way for future adequacy talks. Moreover, the tightening in cooperation would help the EU reinforce the security of its supply chains and achieve the goal of "Open Strategic Autonomy."

This summer, the EU also launched the "European Alliance on Processors and Semiconductor Technologies." Taiwan is also aiming to establish four semiconductor academies in universities by the end of this year to better nurture talent for the semiconductor industry. This also creates opportunities for Taiwan and the EU to collaborate in the cultivation of a professional and globalized work force for the technological industries, industries such as ICT, smart mobility, 5G, biotechnology, green energy technology, and the digital economy. Here, I want to encourage our Taiwanese investors to partner up with their European counterparts, and for our European colleagues to do the same.

Taiwan and the European Union enjoy shared values, including democracy, freedom, the rule of law, and human rights. This makes Taiwan a reliable and natural partner for the European Union, whether in regional security, economic partnership, trade, or investment.

I am glad to see the effort made by our government and a few Central and Eastern European countries to substantiate our bilateral relations. Late this month, our Minister of the National Development Council, Dr. Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫), will lead a high-level trade and investment delegation to Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania. The delegation will explore new opportunities for joint ventures, substantial investment, and industrial cooperation. I see this as another step to further Taiwan's economic cooperation with Europe.

In the past 70 years, Taiwan and Europe not only endured the atrocities of war, we also overcame adversities and many political and economic challenges.

At this juncture, as we head toward the post-pandemic era, I believe it is now more important than ever for Taiwan and Europe to join forces to expand our interests and contribute to the world.

Taiwan and the EU not only have solid economic ties, we are also connected by what we treasure the most – our democratic way of life.

And, starting talks on a bilateral investment agreement can be the beginning of an even more concrete partnership for democracies like us.

In conclusion, I'd like to wish today's Forum a great success, and that this year's Forum results in even more partnerships between Taiwanese businesses and Europe. As Taiwan and the EU overcome our current challenges, the future can only be positive and prosperous when we work together as partners and friends.

Co-hosted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the European Economic and Trade Office, the 2021 EU Investment Forum was held online this year, with a focus on the European Green Deal and the EU's digital transformation plan.

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