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Singapore pact to be completed this year: Lien

Former Vice President and Taiwan APEC delegate Lien Chan (連戰) stated yesterday that according to Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍), the bilateral talks over a free trade agreement between Taiwan and Singapore have made a significant progress and are likely to be completed by the end of this year.

Lien and Lee met on the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Vladivostok, Russia. As a personal friend of Lien, Lee stated that he was happy to meet Lien and posted the picture of them dining together on his Facebook page on Sept. 9. Lien stated that they caught up with each other during the meeting.

Lien's old friend brought him the good news concerning the bilateral free trade agreement, which is called the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP).

Taiwan Likely to Join TPP after Mexico, Canada

Lien further relayed a message from the U.S. that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is now focusing on the integration of the U.S., Canada and Mexico. After the integration of these three nations, more countries will be invited to join the TPP, with Taiwan also being included as a candidate.

As for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), Lien has talked with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but since the issue is under the authority of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, cross-department negotiations are still needed before Taiwan can join the program.

Foreign Affairs Minister Timothy Yang (楊進添) stated that Taiwan and the U.S. have an agreement that there is no fixed timetable for the VWP, and that the U.S. will be the nation to make any announcements over the VWP. Yang, however, stated that the process is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The U.S. is planning to increase its number of tourists in 2015 by more than 100 million people, and Deputy Secretary of State William Joseph Burns has stated that it's a win-win situation for Taiwan and the U.S. to grant Taiwan citizens VWP status.

Satisfactory Timetable for the ECA

Lien also stated that during the APEC meeting he met with the prime minister of New Zealand, who outlined a satisfactory timetable for the economic cooperation agreement (ECA) — a free trade agreement between Taiwan and New Zealand.

Lien stated that the bilateral ties between Taiwan and New Zealand are strong in that Taiwan produces goods that New Zealand needs, and New Zealand produces goods that Taiwan requires.

China to Consider Letting Taiwan Join ICAO

According to Lien, China's President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) stated that he will seriously consider letting Taiwan join the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The APEC delegate stated that the Taipei Flight Information Region has to provide information for millions of flights and be responsible for more than 45 million passengers' lives per year, not including 558 flights across the Taiwan Strait every week. Taiwan, however, currently obtains the information of international aviation regulations a year later than ICAO members. Furthermore, since Taiwan is not a member of the aviation organization, it cannot receive the help from ICAO experts to make sure Taiwan implements the regulations correctly.

Moreover, Lien also expressed his wishes to Hu that China can take a positive stance toward helping Taiwan further integrate into the international community.

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In this photo posted on Facebook on Sept. 9, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍), left, and his wife greet his old friend, Taiwan APEC delegate and former Vice President Lien Chan (連戰), right, and Lien's wife on Russia's Russky Island. (Image captured from Facebook)

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