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President Tsai attends 2020 Europe Day Dinner
President Tsai attends 2020 Europe Day Dinner

While addressing the 2020 Europe Day Dinner on the evening of September 2, President Tsai Ing-wen stated that Taiwan and the European Union have worked together to combat the spread of Covid-19, overcoming many obstacles in this trying time. She expressed hope that by beginning discussions for a bilateral investment agreement, we can further our economic and trade collaboration and open the door to an even more concrete partnership.

A transcript of President Tsai's remarks follows:

Good evening.

I believe this is my fifth time attending the Europe Day Dinner. I must say I am very happy to be here, and to see you all in good spirits and health.

I want to start by thanking Chairman [Giuseppe] Izzo for his invitation today.

And, I want to again express my gratitude to Representative [Filip] Grzegorzewski, the European Union and its member states for supporting Taiwan's inclusion in the World Health Organization. My appreciation also goes out to sectors of the EU for their staunch support of Taiwan's renewable energy sector and policies.

I understand we were supposed to gather here a few months ago for this dinner, but had to reschedule because of the pandemic.

Even though we had to wait a while, I am still very happy to see you all here, as I know that everyone here has been diligent in your efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Taiwan has been proactive in containing the pandemic at home and assisting countries around the world to do the same.

Take the production of face masks for example. Prior to the outbreak, Taiwan was producing just 1.8 million face masks per day. But by mid-May, we had become the second largest producer of face masks in the world, making more than 20 million masks per day.

We realized the importance of self-sufficiency in producing strategic supplies to deal with this health crisis, and worked quickly to upgrade our production capacity. After production reached our set goal, Taiwan donated more than 51 million masks to more than 80 countries around the world.

A large portion of these "Made in Taiwan" masks went to our friends in Europe via RescEU and bilateral channels. The EU willingly reciprocated and recently came to Taiwan's aid. Last month, an outbreak of lumpy skin disease was affecting cattle in Kinmen. The EU was quick to provide Taiwan with the necessary vaccines to deal with the outbreak. The vaccine shipment arrived in Kinmen in the nick of time and alleviated many farmers' worries. I must say thank you to you.

In addition, Taiwan and the EU are collaborating to develop test kits, vaccines and treatments for Covid-19, as well as exchange PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and medical supplies.

These are just a few examples of the solid partnership between Taiwan and the European Union.

This year, Taiwan and member states of the EU are facing many challenges brought on by the pandemic. At a critical time, like the one we are faced with now, we have the opportunity to rethink and reorganize international supply chains and economic strategy.

Cooperation between Taiwan and the EU to construct supply chains for pandemic prevention materials could be the first step to an even more mutually beneficial partnership. This can also be the beginning of more diversified, resilient supply chains.

Taiwan and the EU share the core values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, so Taiwan should naturally be the EU's trusted partner for economic collaboration.

I know this year's Europe Day Dinner was originally planned to mark the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, and to highlight 70 years of economic progress and cooperation between Taiwan and the EU.

Through the years, the relationship Taiwan and Europe share has become increasingly robust.

Last year, the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT), for the first time, had more than 400 institutional members and over 900 individual members. Also last year, our bilateral trade with the EU reached a historic high of 58.7 billion US dollars. In addition to this, EU investments in Taiwan set a record last year. At the end of June this year, foreign direct investment from the EU reached 57 billion US dollars, marking a 65% jump over the past five years. The contributions of so many European businesses in Taiwan are the reason for our excellent progress.

Businesses like Carrefour placed faith in Taiwan to be the heart of their Asian operations. Companies such as Philips played an important role in the development of Taiwan's electronics industry, and helped jumpstart Taiwan's integrated circuit miracle.

Recently, companies such as wpd and Ørsted have been increasing their investments and expanding operations in Taiwan.

In addition, the Jan De Nul Group and DEME have also been involved in building our offshore wind energy sector. There are also 20 British companies who have set up offices here, providing training on all aspects of offshore wind development and construction.

Now, I would like to also take this opportunity to express my appreciation to all the companies, both domestic and foreign, that have been involved in the development of Taiwan's offshore wind energy. We cherish your contribution to the realization of a greener, more sustainable future.

While European businesses contributed to Taiwan's economic progress, Taiwan, on the other hand, also contributed to economic development in European countries.

For example, a number of Taiwanese corporations, such as Foxconn, ASUS, Acer and AUO, invested in the Czech Republic's electronics and ICT sectors, creating 23,000 jobs.

In addition, Slovakia is now home to an AUO facility producing LCD equipment. The plant produces large-sized LCDs and is AUO's second manufacturing base in Europe.

Taiwan's world leader in bicycle manufacturing, Giant, set up its second largest European facility in Hungary in 2018. This came after its first facility in the Netherlands, which was producing half a million high-end bicycles each year.

Aside from maintaining our steadfast economic ties, Taiwan also welcomed visits from an increasing number of government officials from European countries. Delegations and representatives from France, the UK, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands, just to name a few, all visited Taiwan over the last year. And at this time, we are delighted to welcome the delegation, led by the Czech Republic's Senate President [Miloš] Vystrcil, here in Taiwan.

During the past 70 years both Taiwan and Europe have endured hardships and conflict. We have also overcome adversities and weathered many challenges both politically and on the paths to economic integration and development.

At this critical juncture, as we enter into a time of uncertainty, I believe that it is now more important than ever for Taiwan and Europe to come together and further our collaboration while contributing to the world. Not only do we have solid economic ties, we are also connected by our shared values. By beginning discussions for a bilateral investment agreement, we can open the door to an even more concrete partnership.

In conclusion, let me say this, 2020 has been a year of many challenges. Taiwan and the EU have already overcome many obstacles in this trying time. The future will undoubtedly be positive and prosperous if we work together as partners and friends.

I want to, once again, thank Chairman Izzo, Representative Grzegorzewski, and all the EU member state representatives and partners for your continued friendship and support for Taiwan. And I look forward to the next chapter of the Taiwan-EU partnership and the fantastic achievements we will make together.

Lastly, I wish you all happiness and of course, good health, and a wonderful evening.

Among those attending the event were ECCT Chairman Izzo and Head of the European Economic and Trade Office Grzegorzewski.

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