TAIWAN will explore the possibility of entering into a free trade agreement (FTA) with Asean at the forthcoming Taiwan-Asean Business Forum 2003 in Kuala Lumpur on July 25, its deputy minister of economic affairs Steve Ruey-long Chen said.
Taiwan was certainly very interested in seeking the possibility of an FTA with Asean and this should be explored at length during the forum, he told Malaysian journalists in Taipei yesterday.
Two areas that would be looked at during the business forum were investment opportunities in Asean and incentives for foreign investors.
Trade between Taiwan and Asean reached US$32.5bil last year and Taiwanese investment in the 10-member grouping at the end of last year totalled US$42.2bil.
According to Chen, Malaysia's excellent infrastructure and good investment environment had always been factored in Taiwan's drive to promote closer Taiwan-Malaysia economic relations.
The business forum will focus on strengthening economic co-operation in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) era. It will also have a panel discussion on FTAs and market liberalisation.
Earlier at a luncheon hosted by the Taiwan Government Information Office deputy director-general Lee Cher-jean, Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (Tier) associate research fellow Johnny C. Chiang said Taiwans entry into WTO and its go-south policy demonstrated the country's commitment to Asean in terms of common goals and visions.
Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre president in Taipei, Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri, said that in 2001 total two-way trade with the South-East Asian region exceeded US$28.39mil and in 2002, Taiwans exports to major Asian economies, including China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia represented 51.8% of Taiwans total export value.
On tourist arrivals to Malaysia, Tourism Malaysias Taiwan director Michael Tay said there were 209,000 arrivals from Taiwan last year. There should be more frequencies on existing routes to Malaysia and there should be more new routes to Pulau Langkawi, he said.
Taiwan, roughly the size of Pahang, is the worlds 16th largest economy, the 14th largest exporter and the 16th largest importer and the third largest holder of foreign exchange reserves at US$167bil.
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