During a meeting with Australian Representative to Taiwan Gary Cowan on the morning of March 3, President Tsai Ing-wen thanked the Australian government for actively supporting Taiwan's international participation, particularly as we face the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) threat. Australia has spoken up for Taiwan at both the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board and the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), she said. The president also mentioned that Taiwan and Australia signed an organic equivalency arrangement this past January, which means that high-quality organic products from Taiwan will be able to enter the Australian market. She expressed hope that the two countries can begin negotiations regarding an economic cooperation agreement as soon as possible, so that we can continue making new progress together and create win-win situations.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
It is a pleasure to meet with Representative Cowan and all of our guests today. Since taking up his post in 2018, Representative Cowan has worked tirelessly to strengthen Taiwan-Australia relations. I often see you share Taiwan's culture and scenery on Twitter, so I am sure you have experienced the warmth and hospitality of the Taiwanese people in your time here.
Here, I would like to thank Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for releasing a congratulatory statement and praising the maturity of Taiwan's democracy so soon after I was re-elected.
Over the past months, Australia has been devastated by bushfires, and both the Taiwanese government and people have expressed great concern. We have also seen Australia's heroic firefighters and volunteer firefighters continue to give their all on the frontlines of these fires. As the entire world faces the threat of COVID-19, I hope that we can uphold the spirit of bravery and dedication shown by the Australian people, and work together to fight the spread of this virus.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Australian government for actively supporting Taiwan's international participation, particularly as we face the COVID-19 threat. Australia has spoken up for Taiwan at both the WHO Executive Board and the ICAO Council. I look forward to Australia's continued strong support for Taiwan in the future.
Over the past few years, Taiwan-Australia relations have continued to grow closer. Last year, more than 18,000 Taiwanese students studied in Australia. And through Australia's New Colombo Plan, more than 360 young Australian scholars will visit Taiwan to study and intern in 2020. I am confident that close people-to-people ties can help strengthen the mutual understanding and friendship between our countries.
Through our joint efforts, we also successfully signed an organic equivalency arrangement this past January, which means that high-quality organic products from Taiwan will be able to enter the Australian market, thus spurring the development of Taiwan's organic sector. I hope that we can begin negotiations regarding an economic cooperation agreement as soon as possible, based on our already close economic cooperation, so that we can continue making new progress together.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank Representative Cowan for his efforts over the past year and more. I hope that we can continue to deepen ties between Taiwan and Australia grounded in the solid foundation we have already built together, and create win-win situations.
Also present at the meeting were Australian Deputy Representative to Taiwan Susan Moore and Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner Brent Moore.