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UK strengthens Taiwan trade ties as Minister visits Taipei – UK Government Press Release – 07.11.22

Trade Policy Minister Greg Hands heads to Taiwan for first in-person trade talks since pandemic.

From: Department for International Trade and The Rt Hon Greg Hands MP

  • Trade Policy Minister Greg Hands heads to Taiwan for first in-person trade talks since pandemic

  • During a two-day visit, he will meet President Tsai Ing-wen and co-host the 25th annual UK-Taiwan Trade Talks

  • The minister will use talks to tackle barriers to trade and promote UK expertise in areas like offshore wind and hydrogen

Trade Minister Greg Hands will co-host the UK-Taiwan 25th annual Trade Talks in Taipei to boost trade and future-proof our economy through collaboration on green trade and supply chains.

With its advanced, high-tech economy, a GDP of over $770 billion, and strong economic growth – averaging 4% over the last 30 years – Taiwan is an important trading partner for the UK.

Visiting Taiwan in person is a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to boosting UK-Taiwan trade ties. Like the UK, Taiwan is a champion of free and fair trade underpinned by a rules-based global trading system.

The talks with Deputy Minister Chern-Chyi Chen will look at tackling barriers to trade in sectors like fintech, food and drink and pharma, aimed at helping more UK firms export and invest in Taiwan.

The minister will also promote UK expertise in offshore wind, hydrogen and electric vehicles in discussions on areas of mutual interest such as renewables and science and innovation.

Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands said:

I first visited Taiwan 31 years ago in 1991 and it’s been fantastic to see the growth of this dynamic, vibrant economy. I’m thrilled to be the first trade minister here post-pandemic and to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of trade talks.

Boosting trade with this vital partner is part of the UK’s post-Brexit tilt towards the Indo-Pacific and closer collaboration will help us future-proof our economy in the decades to come.

Our thriving £8 billion trade partnership has gone up 14% in the last two years, with UK exports to Taiwan also increasing in that time. The Government’s most recent annual business survey showed the overwhelming majority of UK companies operating in Taiwan are optimistic about its economy and prospects.

During the Trade Talks, Innovate UK will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taiwan, pledging to increase collaboration on technology and innovation. This includes a £5 million funding commitment through to 2025 and support to UK businesses via a bespoke Innovation Programme between the UK and Taiwan.

As a leading manufacturer of semiconductors – the chips used in electronic devices like iPhones and electric vehicles - Taiwan is a key player in global supply chains. The Minister will use meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-Hua, Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang, Minister Kung Ming-Hsin and Minister John Deng – to promote diversified, resilient supply chains and greater economic cooperation.

Thanks to the UK’s unmatched offshore wind experience and expertise, the UK is already a major partner in Taiwan’s green transition, with more than 38 British companies already having set up offices in Taiwan. The Minister will visit the Formosa 2 offshore wind site – the first international offshore wind project supported by UK Export Finance – which more than 10 British companies are involved in.

Luxfer Gas Cylinders, a British company based in Nottingham (UK), has just signed a contract to supply cylinders for Taiwan’s first pilot hydrogen bus project.

Background: According to our annual business survey, 88% of UK businesses operating in Taiwan said they are optimistic about the outlook for the next three years.

Please find here the link to this press release in pdf:

UK strengthens Taiwan trade ties as Minister visits Taipei – UK Government Press Release –
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The Guardian has since reported that China has criticised the British government for sending the trade minister Greg Hands to Taiwan and said the UK must cease “sending the wrong signals” to pro-independence forces on the self-ruled island that Beijing regards as its territory.

Hands began a two-day visit to Taipei on Monday, during which he is scheduled to meet the democracy’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, and co-host the 25th annual UK-Taiwan trade talks.

The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) said the visit was aimed at boosting trade and promoting collaboration on green trade and supply chains. Britain has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but it maintains economic and trade ties.

At a regular media briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, said China “resolutely opposed” any form of official exchanges between Britain and Taiwan.

“We urge the British side … to stop any form of official exchanges with Taiwan and cease sending wrong signals to separatist forces for Taiwan independence,” he said.

“There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inseparable part of China … The One China policy is the political foundation for developing Sino-British bilateral relations,” he said. “We should also warn the Taiwan authorities that colluding with external forces to seek independence is doomed to fail.”

In response to Beijing’s criticism, the UK prime minister’s spokesperson said: “We have a long-established trade relationship with Taiwan; it’s worth £8bn a year.

“These are annual talks between the UK and the ministry of economic affairs in Taiwan. We have a vibrant, longstanding relationship on areas like trade and culture, and this will form part of that engagement.”

Hands is the latest in a long line of foreign delegates to visit Taiwan in recent years, despite China’s opposition. After a visit in August by the US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the People’s Liberation Army reportedly moved several warships and planes near to the median line – an unofficial border between China and Taiwan in the Taiwan strait.

The DIT said Taiwan was “an important trading partner for the UK” and Hands’ visit was “a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to boosting UK-Taiwan trade ties”.

For the full Guardian article in pdf, please click here:

China criticises British minister’s visit to Taiwan for trade talks - The Guardian - 07
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