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ROC Passport Holders Can Travel Visa Free to 96 Countries

ROC Passport Holders Can Travel Visa Free to 96 Countries

From January 11, 2011, Taiwanese will be able to visit 35 more countries, including European Union members, without visas, bringing the total to 96. What a welcome gift as the Republic of China enters its 100th year!

Every year, tens of thousands of Taiwanese travel abroad for business, study, or leisure, and getting documents processed and even enduring face-to-face interviews as some countries demand can be a tiring expenditure of time and energy. After years of hard work behind the scenes, though, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) finally achieved a breakthrough in 2010, earning Taiwanese the chance to enjoy visa-free stays of up to six months in 35 countries, including Canada and the European Union.

Taiwan is Canada's 13th largest trading partner, and the fourth biggest in Asia. Every year, as many as 150,000 Taiwanese visit Canada, making Taiwan their seventh biggest source of overseas tourists. Canada is also the fourth most popular destination for Taiwanese studying abroad, with approximately 15,000 Taiwanese currently enrolled in Canadian schools.

After two years of negotiations, in November 2010 the head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada, David Lee, announced that a breakthrough had been reached. Lee also remarked that the biggest sticking point had come from the rural origins of the Canadian prime minister and many cabinet members; with many of them coming from constituencies that raise cattle and rely on profits from beef exports, the Canadian government had initially demanded that any agreement on visa-free entry should also include an agreement that Taiwan would import Canadian bone-in beef. With the massive negative publicity that arose from American bone-in beef imports recently, Taiwan could not agree, leading to a stalemate.

However, after the Canadians conducted a long, thorough cost-benefit analysis, weighing the loss of visa fees against benefits to trade, culture, and education, they finally agreed to separate the two issues. This willingness to forego the beef deal, says Lee, was a sign of the seriousness and deliberation with which the Canadian government approached the agreement.

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Updated : 2021-05-11 04:10 GMT+08:00