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June 29, 2017

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Seminars, tours of pilot zones for Taiwan's envoys

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese diplomats will be given lectures and will take a tour around sites in Central and Southern Taiwan that are designated as the nation's free trade economic zones during upcoming seminars, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

MOFA previously announced that in order to help Taiwanese diplomats prepare for negotiations to join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a series of seminars will be staged from Feb. 17-20 in Taipei.

Asked to comment on the upcoming seminars, MOFA's Department of Economic and Trade Affairs Director-General John Lai (賴建中) said yesterday the ministry has asked Taiwan's representatives in two regional economic blocs to return home for the big event.

The nation's top envoys in 17 countries in the two regional economic blocs have been asked to join the four-day seminars, Lai said. Economic section chiefs from Taiwan's representative offices in these countries are also asked to return, he noted.

He did not say which of the 17 countries the envoys would be coming from, but according to local media reports, Taiwan's representatives in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, India, the United States, Peru, Chile, Canada and Mexico have received instructions to return for the training.

 Lai said the diplomats are expected to spend two and a half days attending a series of seminars, during which lectures will be held to help them better understand the roadmap for Taiwan's participation in the two economic groups.

"These lectures are essential so that they can talk with the countries they are stationed in about the importance of Taiwan joining the TPP and RCEP," he noted.

He did not give the exact locations of the sites the envoys would visit.

The government previously announced the following locations to be Taiwan's free economic pilot zones: Keelung Harbor, Taipei Harbor, Taichung Harbor, Kaohsiung Harbor, Suao Harbor in Yilan County, Anping Harbor in Tainan, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in Taoyuan County and Pingtung Agricultural Biotechnology Park in Pingtung county.

Lai would not give further details about the seminars, saying that related government units are still making preparations for the event.

Shen Instead of King to Join

Lai yesterday would not confirm if outgoing top envoy to U.S., King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), would be coming back for the seminars.

Lai said MOFA hopes all the diplomats will be returning for the seminars, but he was not sure if King will return due to the recent personnel reshuffle.

The Presidential Office confirmed last week that King will become President Ma Ying-jeou's new chief national security advisor.

The office said that King's post will be taken over by Taiwan's top envoy to the UK, Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡).

A source familiar with the matter said yesterday that King will not be joining the seminars to be held in Taipei. Instead, Shen will be joining the event.

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