British Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands yesterday wrapped up a two-day virtual visit to Taiwan, during which he presided over the two nations’ 23rd annual trade dialogue and the signing of cooperation agreements in education and semiconductor technology.
What was originally meant to be an in-person visit migrated online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although Hands said he “looks forward to being in Taiwan again in the near future.”
The main purpose of the visit was yesterday’s formal dialogue, which Hands presided over with Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Chern-chyi (陳正祺).
Photo courtesy of the British Office in Taipei
The talks aimed to improve bilateral trade and investment ties by focusing on market access for the pharmaceutical, offshore wind, financial service, agriculture and whiskey industries, the British Office Taipei said.
In many fields, such as offshore wind power and financial services, Taiwan provides enormous opportunities for British firms to provide products, services and expertise, Hands said.
The two sides made progress in opening market access for British mutton, and removing trade obstacles for the pharmaceutical and financial service industries, the office said.
Last year, trade between Taiwan and the UK was worth ￡7.1 billion (US$9.3 billion), an increase of nearly 30 percent from three years earlier, the office said.
Taiwan invested ￡64.2 million in the UK last year to become the nation’s most popular investment destination in Europe, it said.
On Wednesday, Hands witnessed the signing of a Letter of Intent on cooperation over English-language education, saying that he was pleased the UK would be offering assistance to Taiwan as it aims to become a bilingual country by 2030.
“Two of my great passions are Taiwan and bilingualism,” Hands wrote on Twitter. “Combining the two is even better!”
Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) told the dialogue that education links between Taiwan and England have been growing rapidly, and the two sides have signed 209 academic exchange agreements.
Earlier on Wednesday, Hands announced the start of bilateral cooperation on compound semiconductor technology development.
At the UK-Taiwan International Showcase for Compound Semiconductor Technology conference held by the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), Hands exchanged views with representatives from nine Taiwanese and nine British businesses, as well as 200 potential investors.
He also oversaw the signing of an MOU on technology cooperation between the ITRI and the UK’s Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult.
Hands also took virtual tours of Taroko Gorge, Alishan (阿里山) and Taipei, writing on Twitter afterward that the highlight was a virtual ride on the Alishan Mountain Railway.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday announced that it is to negotiate with Taiwanese universities to offer scholarships to 100 British students to learn Mandarin in Taiwan.
It made the announcement after Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Tseng (曾厚仁) held a videoconference with Hands, who welcomed the plan and said that the UK would be happy to help Taiwan promote bilingual programs.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan
This story has been amended since it was first published.
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