Ma Ying-jeou called on the EU Jan. 10 to begin negotiating economic cooperation agreements with Taiwan in an effort to bolster bilateral trade relations.
“I believe such pacts should further expand Taiwan-EU trade ties and spur economic development,” Ma said.
The president made the remarks while receiving a European Parliament delegation led by Kinga Goncz, deputy chairwoman of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, at the Presidential Office in Taipei City.
Ma praised robust Taiwan-EU economic relations, citing statistics that the EU is Taiwan’s fourth largest trading partner and top source of foreign direct investment at US$31.3 billion as of this year.
Taiwan is also the EU’s sixth largest trading partner in Asia and 19th worldwide with two-way trade reaching US$2.57 billion in the first three quarters of 2012, the president said, expressing confidence that bilateral trade will grow this year.
The healthy state of Taiwan-EU affairs is also evidenced by an increasing number of visits by ROC citizens to the region, which climbed 30 to 40 percent since the granting of Schengen visa-waiver privileges Jan. 11, 2011.
Ma also expressed gratitude for EU support of Taiwan’s meaningful participation in organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and World Health Organization, as well as parliamentarian backing of the ROC government-proposed East China Sea peace initiative on resolving disputes over the Diaoyutai Archipelago.
“The initiative is inspired by the peaceful resolution of European countries on oil field development in the North Sea, which shows that while national sovereignty is inalienable, natural resources can be shared,” he said.
Proposed by Ma Aug. 5, 2012, the five-point initiative urges all parties to refrain from antagonistic actions; not abandon dialogue; observe international law; resolve disputes through peaceful means; and form a mechanism for exploring and developing resources on a cooperative basis.
The Diaoyutais are an uninhabited archipelago located roughly 170 kilometers northeast of Taiwan proper. The island group is historically attached to the ROC and includes Diaoyutai Island and the islets of Huangwei and Chiwei.