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July 24, 2017

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MAC head advocates Taiwan-EU trade pact

BRUSSELS -- The European Union should actively promote an economic cooperation agreement (ECA) with Taiwan to expand and deepen bilateral economic exchange and cooperation, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Lai Hsin-yin said in Brussels on Wednesday.

The resumption of dialogue between Taiwan and mainland China in recent years has created a stable environment for cross-Taiwan Strait trade and economic activities, a situation favorable to trade and economic ties between Asia and Europe, Lai said in a speech at a conference held by the EU-Asia Center and the Foundation for International Relations and External Dialogue.

As Taiwan and Europe have maintained steady economic ties for a long time, signing an ECA will help expand the economic benefits for both sides, Lai said.

Also, the improvement of cross-strait relations has eased international concerns about China's possible opposition to such an agreement, she said.

The proposed ECA will help the European Union promote its economic strategy in Asia and already has the support of the European people, she added.

"Now is the best time to promote the Taiwan-EU ECA," Lai said.

Lai had earlier addressed the European Parliament on Taiwan's cross-strait policy and achievements in improving ties with China.

In response to a question by a parliamentarian, Lai said Beijing was not opposed to a recent decision by Taiwan to refer to its overseas representatives as "ambassadors."

She attributed China's response to the Taiwan government's efforts to improve relations with China.

Similarly, she said, Beijing had not expressed displeasure to Taiwan over the three U.S. arms packages procured during President Ma Ying-jeou's first term in office, although China did protest to Washington and briefly suspended military-to-military exchanges with the United States.

On the "East China Sea Peace Initiative" proposed by Ma, Lai said the president sincerely hopes that all concerned parties can resolve their territorial disputes in the East China Sea through peaceful means, and she suggested that the European Parliament adopt a resolution in support of the initiative.

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