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Taiwan seeks quick progress on long-stalled EU investment deal

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TAIPEI — Taiwan wants progress to be accelerated on a long-stalled bilateral investment agreement with the European Union, the island’s President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday.

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.

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While they are Taiwan’s largest source of foreign investment, 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.

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Meeting a delegation from the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade, Tsai said Taiwan and the EU should build a “resilient democratic alliance.”

“Taiwan seeks to enhance bilateral economic and trade exchanges, strengthen supply chain security and accelerate progress on the Taiwan-EU bilateral investment agreement, which would instill confidence in businesses on both sides to expand investments,” she told the group, in comments carried live by the presidential office.

The European Union 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.

Delegation leader Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou told Tsai that the EU and Taiwan shared common values like democracy and human rights.

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“The EU recognizes that our partnership in trade and investment with Taiwan is a strategic relationship with geopolitical implications,” Asimakopoulou said.

“My colleagues and I in the European Parliament have called on the (European) Commission to launch without delay an impact assessment, a public consultation and a scoping exercise for the bilateral investment agreement between the EU and Taiwan,” she added.

While Taiwan and the EU held-high level trade talks in June, less than a week after that meeting Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) said it had no concrete plans for factories in Europe.

TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker and Asia’s most valuable listed company, flagged last year that it was in the early stages of reviewing a potential expansion into EU member Germany but there appears to have been no substantive progress since then. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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