The EU has been actively promoting the Europe-Asia Connectivity Strategy in recent years.
After the signing of free trade agreements with Japan, Korea, Singapore and Vietnam, signing a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) with Taiwan is a logical next step in strengthening the EU’s ties with Asia and a counterweight to China’s economic expansion. Unlike China, the EU and Taiwan are like-minded partners in many respects: commitment to freedom, democracy, free market and human rights.
In 2019 Taiwan was the EU’s fifth largest trading partner in Asia and its 15th largest trading partner worldwide. In terms of bilateral investments, the EU is the largest source of foreign direct investment in Taiwan, and there is ample room to boost Taiwanese investments in the EU.
Taiwan is home to numerous companies that are world leaders in the technologies of the future, and a BIA will strengthen collaborative ventures with Taiwanese partners. The competence to formally deepen investment relations and make any legal changes to them lies with the EU institutions. An investment agreement would benefit both partners significantly.
On 28 October 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Anna Fotyga (ECR), Fabio Massimo Castaldo (NI), Engin Eroglu (Renew), Michael Gahler (PPE), Helmut Geuking (ECR), Markéta Gregorová (Verts/ALE), Rasa Juknevičienė (PPE), Eugen Jurzyca (ECR), Beata Kempa (ECR), Andrius Kubilius (PPE), David Lega (PPE), Ryszard Antoni Legutko (ECR), Aušra Maldeikienė (PPE), Beata Mazurek (ECR), Liudas Mažylis (PPE), Javier Nart (Renew), Bert-Jan Ruissen (ECR), Ivan Štefanec (PPE), Hermann Tertsch (ECR), Witold Jan Waszczykowski (ECR), Charlie Weimers (ECR), Jadwiga Wiśniewska (ECR), Roberts Zīle (ECR), Kosma Złotowski (ECR) and Miriam Lexmann (PPE) tabled a written parliamentary question to the European Commission.
“Given that Parliament has called for the swift opening of investment negotiations with Taiwan, as per the evaluation letter to Trade Commissioner Dombrovskis”, MEPs asked the European Commission “does it intend to start the negotiations in the near future?” and “does it have a roadmap for these negotiations?”
On 22 December, Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis responded on behalf of the European Commission. In his answer, he reported that “the European Union (EU) and Taiwan are like-minded partners with a shared commitment to freedom, democracy, open markets, human rights and the rule of law” and “the EU’s bilateral trade and investment relationship with Taiwan is important and robust with a potential to further strengthening ties given the synergies and complementarities in the EU’s economic sectors and investments”.
Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis stated that “the EU and Taiwan are in regular policy dialogues on economic, trade and investment issues. Since 2017, the Investment Working Group has met six times, with substantive and productive exchanges on a broad range of policy matters and legislative developments” and “these technical exchanges have strengthened mutual understanding of our respective regulatory frameworks for investment”.
Lastly, he explained that “the Commission has not taken a decision on launching investment negotiations with Taiwan nor does it have a roadmap for the negotiations” and “in the meantime, the EU continues working closely with Taiwan, including addressing some persistent trade barriers faced by European exporters”.
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