British Office head to end fruitful tenure in Taiwan

British Office head to end fruitful tenure in Taiwan

In three and half years of service packed with achievements by facilitating exchange of goods, services, ideas, and cultural programs between the UK and Taiwan, Chris Wood, Representative of the British Office Taipei, gave a farewell speech at a media luncheon on Wednesday.

Wood took the oath of office in March, 2013, as de-facto ambassador of the British Government to Taiwan and is going to end his tenure and Deputy Head of the British Office Damion Potter will be taking over the post on August 25 before the arrival of a new director slated for mid-December this year.

“The UK is Taiwan’s 13th largest export destination globally and the 3rd in Europe. With a growing need for services, Taiwan has seen a deeper bilateral collaboration in the service sector between both countries and the UK remains an attractive destination for Taiwanese investment. We are delighted that the UK is so high on the list as Taiwan enterprises seek global investment opportunities,” Wood said.

Wood added that, among the best-performing export items to Taiwan, Scotch whisky exports totalled £192m in 2015, accounting for 16.5 percent of all UK goods exports to Taiwan. According to the latest Scotch Whisky Association statistics, Taiwan is the industry’s 4th largest export market globally by value and the 3rd largest for single malt whisky.

Data from Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs shows that the UK attracted a total of US$1.7 billion in investment from Taiwan in 2015 alone, representing a whopping 67.7 percent of Taiwanese investment into Europe.

As an overseas office of a world leader addressing climate change and climate action, British Office Taipei has rolled out several campaigns concerning the issues of environment, sustainability, and climate change and holds a series of events and activities throughout the year, including the past UK-Taiwan Renewable Energy Conference in May and an upcoming visit in September by a group of researchers and academics from the UK to share findings in carbon capture, storage, and utilization. In late-September, the office is to co-host a forum addressing climate change in collaboration with the Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy.

The Brexit referendum has dominated international headlines since late June, particularly at the outset, and the British Office Taipei shoulders partial responsibility to give Taiwanese investors peace of mind. With that, acting as an ambassador for the UK’s financial and professional services, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Jeffrey Mountevans, led a business delegation to Taiwan on July 11 and 12 to meet Taiwanese economy and trade officials, business leaders, and President Tsai Ing-wen assisted by British Office Taipei.

According to Wood, a new round of UK-Taiwan bilateral trade talks is planned in late September, and Greg Hands will lead a team of professionals from the UK joined by the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Taiwan, Lord Faulkner.

Expanding bilateral and regional trade agreements with other important trading partners outside China have constituted the main features of President Tsai Ing-wen’s foreign policy. Apart from the UK-Taiwan trade agreement, Taiwan is seeking its inclusion in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Southeast Asian countries.