Taiwan has “enormous appetite” to expand ties with India: Taiwanese Foreign Minister Wu

Taipei:¬†Taiwan has an “enormous appetite” to expand ties with India and firming up the proposed free trade agreement between the two sides will be a “big encouragement” for Taiwanese companies to set up manufacturing bases in India, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu has said.

Wu said Taiwan has been encouraging its companies that no longer find the Chinese market profitable to shift their production facilities to India as it is now a “rising power” and has been witnessing rapid economic growth.

In an interaction with an international media group, he said an FTA between India and Taiwan will remove barriers to greater trade and investment ties and it will help Taiwanese companies to set up manufacturing hubs without paying high tariffs for various equipment and raw materials.

Taiwan produces over close to 70 per cent of the world’s semiconductors and over 90 per cent of the most advanced chips that are required for almost all electronic equipment such as smartphones, car components, data centres, fighter jets and AI technologies.

India has been very keen on having a manufacturing facility for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC), the world’s largest chipmaker whose clients included Apple.

The Taiwanese foreign minister said Taipei has conveyed to New Delhi that the time has come for launching the FTA negotiations. The two sides have already conducted studies for the FTA and held preliminary discussions for the pact.

The FTA will be a “big encouragement” for our companies to set up manufacturing bases in India as the trade pact would provide relief on tariffs on various aspects including on bringing various equipment and related materials to the country, Wu said.

“Our trade relations have been picking up steam. The Taiwanese investors are hungry for India and the semiconductor cooperation between Taiwan and India is being blessed by the top leadership of the two countries,” he said.

The foreign minister said Taipei will continue to encourage Taiwanese businessmen, who no longer find the Chinese market profitable, to invest in India.

“What we see is a very prosperous future bilateral relations between India and Taiwan and we will continue to work hard to strengthen it further,” he said.

Wu said Taiwan wants to be able to stand up to the threat of the Chinese military and Beijing’s economic coercion, adding Taipei needs international support for it.

“We will continue to engage with the world to draw more global support, especially from federal democracies. Our relations with India have been picking up steam in the last few years,” Wu added.

“India is a rising power, it is rising rapidly. It can not be ignored especially with its demographic dividend and very diligent entrepreneurs. India has its economic strengths for the future. It is going to be very powerful. And of course, we hope we will continue to have good ties with India,” he said.

The Taiwanese foreign minister said Taiwan’s ties with India in areas of trade and investment, people-to-people connections and cultural ties have witnessed a significant upswing in the last few years.

He said Indian movies are “fascinating” to the Taiwanese people.

“We will continue to strengthen our relations with India. There is enormous appetite on our part for closer cooperation with India and we would try each and every area to see what will materialise,” he added.

Complimenting India on its success in the space sector, Wu said Taipei is seeking cooperation with New Delhi on it.

“I want to congratulate India for its G20 presidency and wish the upcoming G20 summit a great success. As a friend of India, we want India to be successful in major international events like G20,” Wu said.

On new areas of cooperation, the Taiwanese foreign minister identified parliamentary engagement between the two sides as a priority for Taipei.

“We hope there is more government-to-government interaction with each other. So far there are limited interactions. We hope that we can break some barriers in order to have better political ties with each other,” he said.

“It should work for the benefit of our bilateral relations. We also want more investment in India. India is interested in the semiconductor industries to be operating in India. And we have more intention to work with the Indian government and materialise the FTA,” he said.

China has been maintaining that Taiwan is a breakaway province that must be reunified with the mainland, and if necessary by force. China has been regularly sending fighter jets into Taiwan’s air defence zone and deploying warships close to the self-governed island.

India does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but both sides have trade and people-to-people relations.

Following the eastern Ladakh border row with China, some experts in India have been pushing for upgrading New Delhi’s ties with Taipei, especially in the trade and investment sectors.