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Taiwan trade delegation visits Langley
A Taiwanese trade delegation told representatives of local businesses and both Langley councils that Canadian businesses seeking access to mainland China should consider using Taiwan as a bridge to that market.
The morning meeting last week (June 26) at the local campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University drew about 30 participants.
It was hosted by the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.
In his opening remarks, Langley MP Mark Warawa called Taiwan the “gateway” to Asian markets for local business, saying the island nation is the “highest of high-tech” economies.
Dr. Chi-Kung Liu, diplomatic head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Canada, said westerners tend to “overlook” Taiwan when they are planning to enter the Asian markets.
Some even confuse it with Thailand, he said.
Liu said Taiwanese businesses can play a “bridging role” for B.C. businesses by sharing their in-depth knowledge of mainland China with Canadians.
Liu referred to himself as an “ambassador” when he spoke at the Langley meeting, but that is not technically correct.
Mainland China does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country and has refused to trade with countries that do not agree to its “One China” policy.
When Canada formally opened diplomatic relations with mainland China in 1970, the written agreement said the Canadian government acknowledges the People’s Republic of China is the “sole legal government of China” and “takes note” of China’s position that Taiwan is an “inalienable part of the [mainland] territory.”
However, Canada maintains a trade office in Taiwan that functions as an embassy in everything but name, while Taiwan does the same with its trade office in Ottawa.
Government of Canada figures show trade with Taiwan totaled $5.3 billion in 2010, consisting of $1.3 billion in Canadian exports to Taiwan and $4 billion in imports from Taiwan.
B.C. made up the largest portion of Canadian exports to Taiwan, with $505.3 million in goods or about 40 per cent of all Canadian shipments.
Currently, Taiwan imports raw materials from Canada, mostly coal, metals and lumber, while Canada imports manufactured goods from Taiwan, mostly electronic circuits and parts for smart phones.
“Taiwan is too big to ignore,” said William Wu, executive assistant, who spoke at the Langley meeting.
Taiwan is Canada’s fourth largest trading partner in the Pacific Rim, Wu noted.
“We have a lot of potential to grow [that trade]” Wu told the meeting, pointing to one successful Canadian venture in Taiwan, the 86 joint Roots-Second Cup stores.
“Taiwanese are quite friendly to Canadian goods and Canadian services as long as it’s good [quality],” Wu said.