TAIWAN’S former Vice President Annette Lu and the World Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce (WTCC) pushed for a free-trade agreement (FTA) with the Philippines during their one-day visit in the country last week.
During a luncheon in Pasay City, attended by several key members from both houses of congress, Lu said the Philippines and Taiwan relations have significantly improved over the past years.
Economic progress is important. We are facing the same problems and challenges. We have to work together, Lu said in her brief speech, while adding that Taiwan is for peace and neutrality.
Among the legislators present during the luncheon were Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez of the First District of Leyte, Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez of the Second District of Cagayan de Oro, Party-list Rep. Maximo B. Rodriguez Jr. of Abamin, Rep. Leopoldo N. Bataoil of the Second District of Pangasinan, and Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar.
WTCC President Shie Lin Liu said they see a lot of potential in the Philippines and its economy.
We are here to learn and look for business opportunities. We hope that Congress can facilitate the signing of a free-trade agreement and that you support us in our bid in the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP].
The Philippines can become a leading economic power in the region, Shie said.
The WTCC, established in 1994 in Taiwan, have 40,000 member-companies doing business in 70 countries worldwide. The Philippines was the first stop for the WTCC’s six-nation Association of Southeast Asian tour.
Taiwan Ambassador Gary Song-Huann Lin supported the position of the WTCC by stressing the importance of strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
We have to work together on economic cooperation agreements and regional comprehensive economic partnership. The WTCC is in the country in a fact-finding mission to assess opportunities, Lin said.
For his part, Marcos said they recognize the importance of the visit in terms of the approaching singularity of the global market.
We have a strong trade and economic relations. We need to find ways to have stability in the region, Marcos said, while adding that peace can be achieved through trade.
Last year bilateral trade between the Philippines and Taiwan reached $11.60 billion. For the first five months of the year, Taiwan exports to the Philippines were at $3.10 billion, while Philippine exports were at $768 million.
Taiwan is looking to establish an economic cooperation agreement with the Philippines. It is a concept that is similar to a FTA. Meanwhile, the TPP is a proposed FTA that is being negotiated by 12 countries in the pacific region.
Meanwhile, Lu also mentioned about Taiwan’s agenda of pushing the use of soft power which will highlight their country’s aspiration for neutrality and become Asia’s version of Switzerland.
We were inspired by the People Power that happened in your country, Lu said, while emphasizing the need for more partnerships in environment and human-rights protection, and increased tourism and cultural exchanges between Taiwan and the Philippines.
She added that Taiwan wants to safeguard its independence and sovereignty through a self-reliant national defense, democratic institutions, free economy and green ecology.
Taiwan’s quest for neutrality will be submitted to the new government next year after the presidential elections and will undergo a national plebiscite.
Lu, who is the founder of Taiwan’s feminist movement, served as Taiwan’s vice president from 2000 to 2008.