Brexit to have little impact on Taiwan-UK trade relations

The British government looks to establish bilateral trade deals after triggering Article 50

British Prime Minister Theresa May signs Brexit letter on Tuesday invoking Article 50 (Christopher Furlong/AP)

British Prime Minister Theresa May signs Brexit letter on Tuesday invoking Article 50 (Christopher Furlong/AP)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- As the UK begins the process of exiting the EU, which some expect may be completed within two years, the country believes that triggering Article 50 will have little impact on bilateral trade as the government seeks to establish such deals with countries like Taiwan.

Tim Barrow, the UK permanent representative to the EU, will deliver Prime Minister Theresa May’s letter formally requesting the country’s exit from the EU within two years to the European Council President Donald Tusk on Wednesday, Business Insider reported.

The UK is Taiwan’s third-largest trading partner in the EU and 13th globally, with Taiwan’s export value reaching US$3.64 billion in 2016 or 1.3 percent of total exports, according to the Bureau of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Economic Affairs of Taiwan. The bureau expects that the two-year process for Brexit should allow the two nations to maintain the same agreements they had within the E.U. as the country will still adhere to measures dictated by its membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The UK attracted a total of US$1.7 billion in investment from Taiwan in 2015, representing 67.7 percent of Taiwanese investment in Europe, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).

The EU imposed anti-dumping duties on Taiwanese steel imports in January, with duties ranging from 5.1 to 12.1 percent. There are also four anti-subsidy measures against Taiwan in the EU. It is unclear whether the duties imposed on Taiwan would continue following Brexit.

The MOEA said that the country’s real estate and financial industries suffered in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, but that the overall impact was insignificant, according to a CNA report. However, the weak British pound may affect future investment in Taiwan as 90 percent of British investments in the country are in the financial and insurance industries.

The MOEA said that it will take a short-term and long-term approach in response to the UK triggering Article 50. It will begin with ensuring trade agreements are maintained and then discuss new agreements to establish improved investment opportunities.

The UK and Taiwan had engaged in bilateral trade negotiations last year following the Brexit vote.

The British Office in Taiwan’s UK Trade & Investment department has no comment at this time.