TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan and the European Union should sign an investment agreement to use economics as a way to strengthen their democratic ties, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday, pitching to revive a deal that has languished since before she took office.
The bloc included tech-powerhouse Taiwan on its list of trade partners for a potential bilateral investment agreement in 2015, the year before Tsai first won the presidency. But since then it has held no talks with Taiwan on the issue.
Speaking in a pre-recorded message to the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, Tsai alluded to autocratic China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, in describing how her island stands to benefit from the reshaping of global supply chains in the COVID-19 world.
“European and American businesses will be looking for more reliable partners. To them I say, democratic Taiwan, with its respect for the rule of law, human rights and intellectual property, its talented workforce and its strong and trustworthy track record in high-tech industries, welcomes your investment,” she said.
“An investment agreement between Taiwan and the European Union, for example, will be a great first step, one that will align our norms and standards and permit business to flourish, alongside protections accorded to traders and investors,” she said.
“What better way to show the world that democracies are willing to support each other in the face of rising challenges to our values? We should use the power of economics to strengthen our democracies.”
EU member states, and the EU itself, have no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan due to China’s objections, which considers the island one of its provinces with no right to the trappings of state, so any investment deal could be tricky politically for the EU.
However, the EU has grown increasingly impatient with China on trade, saying Beijing has failed to provide fair access for European firms. Negotiations on a China-EU investment agreement have been underway for six years and may be concluded in 2020.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Hugh Lawson)