What the recent positive noises between Taiwan and the UK show are that Brexit offers a real opportunity to Taiwan. Just as I wrote back in March. The UK is Taiwan’s 13th largest trading partner and will be a notable target for closer trade relations once the UK has escaped the confines of the European Union.
At the moment, the Brexit process is underway and officially, the UK is not allowed to start any unilateral trade negotiations with other countries until they have officially left the EU. But it would be naïve to think that this rule was being followed to the letter.
Britain has already established a Department for International Trade and Ministers and civil servants are already flying around the world to put the groundwork in place for quite trade deals to be put in place once the UK is officially independent again.
They will be looking to minimize trade barriers between the UK and other countries at the earliest opportunity and the significant economic ties between the UK and Taiwan means a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries is a big possibility.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the hiatus in FTA negotiations between Taiwan and Australia. But the mutual benefits of an FTA with the UK would be much larger. And a post-Brexit UK will also serve as a gateway to the EU too, offering Taiwanese businesses the opportunity to gain a foothold in Europe.
The path to an FTA will not necessarily be a simple one. The UK will also be seeking trade agreements with China and their open hostility may provide a few hurdles to be crossed along the way. But the direct involvement of Greg Hands shows the commitment of the UK to build closer economic links. And this is something the Taiwanese government should be striving for too.
Direct flights between Taipei and London is, therefore, a forward-looking move by Taiwan. It may lose money to start with, but in the long run, it will help to bring Taiwan and the UK literally and figuratively closer together.
To read more, click on Part One of this article.