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French envoy wants more bilateral exchanges with Taiwan despite COVID

Representative calls for more economic, trade missions to encourage Taiwanese investment in France

French envoy to Taiwan Jean-Franois Casabonne-Masonnave. 

French envoy to Taiwan Jean-Franois Casabonne-Masonnave.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — French representative to Taiwan Jean-Francois Casabonne-Masonnave said on Friday (Sept. 17) he hopes Taiwan will consider adjusting its COVID-related border policies to allow more exchange opportunities and strengthen bilateral ties.

Casabonne-Masonnave said that French manufacturers have established a strong presence in Taiwan through heavy investment. For example, French industrial gases company Air Liquide is providing Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. with hydrogen, which is crucial for the semiconductor production process, CNA reported.

Recently, the French company has built low-carbon hydrogen water electrolysis plants in Tainan and Hsinchu Science Park. The plants provide high-purity industrial gas to Taiwan's manufacturers, which allows for a zero-carbon emissions production process.

The French representative said French oil and gas company Total has invested in the development of Taiwan’s renewable energy sector, including offshore wind power. Currently, Total supplies about 9% of the East Asian nation’s natural gas supply.

However, Casabonne-Masonnave pointed out that Taiwanese investment in France is relatively low, so Paris needs to do more to address this issue. The representative listed semiconductor production as an example of potential cooperation, saying that France offers “professional and talent advantages” for Taiwan to establish related facilities but that this is not widely known to Taiwanese.

In order to further deepen bilateral relations, Casabonne-Masonnave said he hopes the Taiwanese government will consider opening up its borders for short-term exchanges and economic and trade investment missions or shortening the quarantine period to encourage more French nationals to visit Taiwan.

Nevertheless, he stressed that he understands Taiwan’s situation and pledged to continue talks with its government.