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Chip giant Taiwan appeals for EU trade deal

Taiwan’s government officials touted its leading position in the chip sector on Tuesday while appealing to the European Union to start talks for a trade deal, which Taipei has long sought.

“The restructuring of global supply chains and transformation of our economies bring enormous potential for closer, mutually beneficial cooperation between Taiwan and the EU,” President Tsai Ing-wen said at an EU investment forum in Taipei.

“I am optimistic that this will help pave the way for negotiation of (a) bilateral investment agreement,” she said of the forum.

The EU is Taiwan’s largest source of foreign investment, but the EU and its member states do not have formal diplomatic ties with the democratically-ruled island due to objections from China, which considers Taiwan one of its provinces.

The EU has been courting Taiwan, a major semiconductor producer, as one of the “like-minded” partners it would like to work with under the European Chips Act unveiled in February.

In the wake of a global chip shortage, during which Germany had asked Taiwan to help ease a shortage of auto chips, countries around the world have announced massive investments to boost domestic chip production and research.

“Top priorities now for nations are engaging in cooperation with like-minded allies, building secure and reliable supply chain partnerships and avoiding over-reliance on a single market,” Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said at the forum.

With the EU planning to set up at least six million public charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 and EVs requiring significantly more chips than conventional cars, “Taiwan will be a trustworthy partner for the EU in developing its EV market,” Wang said.

As the restructuring of the global supply chain accelerates, in the coming years, “Taiwan investment in the EU will far surpass the amount now, especially in semiconductors,” Taiwan National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin said.

Given the enormous amounts of investment between Taiwan and the EU, Kung asked: “Can we start to discuss a bilateral investment agreement?”

The EU included Taiwan on its list of trade partners for a potential bilateral investment agreement in 2015, the year before Tsai became Taiwan’s president, but it has not held talks with Taiwan on the issue since. Reuters

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