Aussie new PM willing to talk free trade: MOFA
CNATAIPEI -- The new government of Australia has said it is willing to begin free trade talks with Taiwan, a sign that the new administration will be more friendly toward Taiwan than its predecessor, a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.
September 26, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
The administration of new Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was sworn in Sept. 18, has sent three important messages to Taiwan, including the one related to the talks, Benjamin Ho, chief of the MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said while answering questions from lawmakers during a hearing at the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and National Defense Committee.
The other two messages were in reference to a visit to Taiwan by at least one Cabinet official each year and measures to encourage more young Australians to study in Taiwan, Ho said.
Compared with its predecessor, the Abbott government is more friendly toward Taiwan, he added, noting that this stance will have a positive affect on Taiwan-Australia relations in the long run.
Ho was one of a number of MOFA officials, headed by Foreign Affairs Minister David Lin, who were asked to brief lawmakers on their work in the Wednesday hearing. Lin presented a report on a general overview of the ministry's operations.
The report said the government is continuing its “low profile, zero accidents” principle in its promotion of Taiwan-U.S. ties.
Bilateral communications have become more frequent, Lin's report said. As a result, a high level of mutual trust has been restored, while growth has been observed in the cooperation between Taiwan and the United States in terms of security, economy and trade, it said.
On Taiwan-European Union relations, the report said the government has worked to deepen its relations with the European Union and its members through various channels. At present, the two sides maintain close cooperation in the fields of economy and trade, culture and education, and technology, the report noted.
Also at the hearing, Zhang Ming-zhong, head of the MOFA's Department of European Affairs, reported on the Sept. 22 general election in Germany, saying that the election results are not expected to significantly affect Taiwan-Germany relations.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel won her third term in office, with her conservative bloc taking 41.5 percent of the vote.