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BCCT inks pact to help UK SMEs exporting to Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The British Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (BCCT) yesterday cemented a formal partnership between itself and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), a non-ministerial department of the British government, in an effort to help British SMEs exporting to Taiwan and to promote bilateral trade and investment between the UK and Taiwan.

The agreement was formally signed by BCCT Chairman Ajay Kanwal, who also serves as president and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank (Taiwan), and Chris Wood, director of the British Trade & Cultural Office (BTCO), the UK's de facto embassy in Taiwan.

Yesterday's signing ceremony was also attended by former Vice President Vincent Siew, Minister without Portfolio Schive Chi and Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Francis Liang.

As part of its agreement with UKTI, the BCCT said that it has implemented an advisor network to put UK companies looking to do business in Taiwan in touch with existing British and Taiwanese companies in the local market.

The BCCT added that it has also established six industry-specific committees to explore key business issues in sectors related to financial services, health care, infrastructure, education, tourism and other areas.

The BCCT's focus is on commerce, cultural activities and corporate social responsibility, Kanwal said, adding that the newly signed agreement will assist SMEs in the UK that export to Taiwan.

The chairman noted that the pact represents a significant milestone in the BCCT's 20-year history.

Wood cited Lord Mayor of the City of London Fiona Woolf's recent visit to Taiwan as an example of the strength of UK-Taiwan relations.

The director described the pact as marking a new age in UK-Taiwan ties and explained that the BTCO's focus is on government-to-government relations and creating the right environment for trade and investment.

The former vice president pointed out that the UK is Taiwan's third largest trading partner in Europe, and that the trade volume between the two sides has grown substantially over the years.

Siew said that he met with EU officials last September and expressed the administration's "strong desire" to engage in free trade agreement negotiations with the EU as soon as possible.

Schive said that SMEs have played an important role in the development of the Taiwanese economy, adding that SMEs have also proven to be more innovative than their larger counterparts.

The minister added that in a relative sense, SMEs, despite tremendous pressure, typically spend more on research and development as well as secure more patents than large-scale corporations.

The BCCT said that the UK government's vision is to better connect British businesses with the world's top commercial markets and build a global accredited network of business-backed and government-supported overseas organizations.

The Chamber went on to say that the UK's trade objectives are to help 50,000 SMEs export and generate 10 billion pounds (NT$496 billion) from high-value opportunities overseas by 2015.

Ultimately, this agreement will promote bilateral trade and investment between the UK and Taiwan, enhancing the economy in both markets, the BCCT said.

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