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Ma urges signing of EU trade agreements

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated the importance of Taiwan signing trade agreements with the European Union (EU) yesterday, also expressing his gratitude for the EU's support for such agreements.

The president made the remarks at the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan's (ECCT) 2014 Europe Day Dinner last night.

The ECCT not only represents a positive force in Taiwan's economic relationship with the EU, Taiwan is also grateful that the ECCT supports the signing of a Taiwan-EU economic trade agreement in the near future, said Ma.

Once again citing examples of how European countries had influenced certain policies during his term in office, Ma pointed out that Taiwan has greatly benefited from the examples given. Claiming to have found inspiration from the France–Germany student exchange program after World War II, Ma said that he thought it would be a good idea to allow students from mainland China to come to Taiwan and build friendships. Also, the relationship between East and West Germany in 1972 has proven to be yet another inspiration when it comes to cross-strait relations, said Ma. “Each side of Germany recognized the other's territories and their authority to govern, but did not recognize dual sovereignty ... This is a fascinating idea, and is exactly like our relationship with China. A mutual non-denial of each other's authority to govern ... this is very unorthodox, but has kept up well in the past six years,” said Ma.

During his terms in office, Taiwan has been able to sign several economic and trade agreements with nations including New Zealand, the United States, China and a fisheries agreement with Japan, Ma stressed. As the EU is Taiwan's fourth biggest trading partner, it would be essential to sign further economic cooperation agreements with the EU.

ECCT Chairman Guiseppe Izzo shared Ma's opinions regarding the need to further enhance the partnership Taiwan has enjoyed with the EU in order to boost economic performance in both regions.

Izzo also voiced the chamber's support for the Ma administration's efforts to normalize cross-strait business relations and to enhance cross-strait trade and investment through formal negotiations. “Trade agreements with Taiwan's trading partners are important as they eliminate trade barriers and maintain the country's competitiveness,” said Izzo.

“Because Europe is the world's largest economic body, we continue to urge both the EU and Taiwan authorities to sign a Trade Enhancement Measures agreement or similar pacts, like a bilateral investment agreement.”

Izzo also pointed out Taiwan's internal political and social tensions, saying that change causes anxiety and Taiwanese people are worried about the future. The government and private sectors should work together to provide decent jobs for the people, said Izzo.

Ma expressed gratitude for the ECCT's positive reactions once more, saying that in order to boost Taiwan's economy and trade, one of the next essential steps would be for Taiwan to sign trade agreements with the EU.

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