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May 30, 2017

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UK envoy to Taiwan eyes further bilateral efforts

TAIPEI -- The United Kingdom is looking to further its cooperation with Taiwan in trade, energy and infrastructure, among other areas, the U.K. representative to Taiwan said Wednesday, three months after assuming his duties.

Speaking at a news conference marking the 20th anniversary of the British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO), which represents U.K. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, Chris Wood, director of the BTCO in Taipei, said he hopes U.K.-Taiwan trade will "grow even more in the coming years."

Infrastructure, railway and subway systems, the service industry, information and communications technology, and the creative industry are among the areas in which Taiwan and the U.K. can seek further cooperation, he said.

Energy is another area suitable for further cooperation, Wood said, adding that the U.K. is sharing its own experience and helping Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute to develop a tool that can model future energy demands and needs.

In an effort to promote cooperation in renewable energy, a delegation of Taiwanese companies and academics also visited the U.K. recently to exchange views with British government officials and learn more about Britain's wind farm development, he added.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's Quanta Computer signed a contract with the London-based Open Data Institute June 13 to become a member of that non-profit organization, which will give it access to U.K. innovation, Wood announced.

Increasing bilateral trade and investment will be one of his top priorities during his term in Taiwan, he said.

Only 1 percent of Taiwan's outward investment goes to Europe, and 70 percent of that is in the U.K., he added.

"We would like to see Taiwanese investment in Europe and the U.K. growing as well," he said.

Asked about a service trade pact to be signed by Taiwan and China soon, he said it could help attract more British companies to invest in Taiwan and use it as a springboard to China.

He further noted that U.K. exports to Taiwan surpassed 2 billion pounds (US$3.12 billion) for the first time in 2010, while the U.K's visa waiver treatment for Taiwanese passport holders and a reciprocal working holiday agreement have increased the number of Taiwanese visitors to the European country, he added.

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