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Taiwan can use Australia as ASEAN participation model: diplomat

Taiwan can use Australia as ASEAN participation model: diplomat

As a long-term“dialogue partner”with member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) , Australia can serve as a model for Taiwan in participating in the regional group, a senior Australian official said.
Alice Cawte, representative of the Australian Commerce and Industry Office (ACIO) in Taiwan, said in a recent interview with the Central News Agency that Australia has been a dialogue partner with ASEAN for a long time and concluded free trade agreement negotiations with ASEAN on Aug. 28.
“In that sense, we might serve as a model for others, but not so much as a platform, because it's really a matter for the members of the ASEAN to determine,”Cawte said.
“Certainly the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a good platform, where we are both members, to work together on economic issues, as we do in the World Trade Organization, more so than ASEAN,”she added.
President Ma Ying-jeou's administration, which took office on May 20, has been stepping up efforts for Taiwan to actively participate in the integration of the Asia Pacific region and ASEAN.
Taiwan's Foreign Ministry decided on Oct. 17 to establish a think tank to provide strategies to promote relations with ASEAN countries, a decision made after a two-day coordination meeting of the ministry's newly formed task force on relations with ASEAN.
Taiwan fears its trade-dependent economy could be marginalized if it is not included in a regional free trade zone under negotiation that would include the ASEAN countries and China, South Korea and Japan.
Speaking about bilateral relations between Taiwan and Australia, Cawte said the relations are“very good”and that there exist long-standing people-to-people links.
Noting that mutual trade last year amounted to 10.6 billion Australian dollars and describing the relations as“complementary, ” Cawte said exchanges are also expanding in tourism and education.
“This is a very robust and healthy trade not just economically, but for improving our understanding, the understanding between Australia and Taiwan,”she added.
The highest ranking Australian diplomat in Taiwan, who assumed her post two months ago, said that although the Australia-Taiwan trade and investment relations are generally mature and operate very well, there are specific differences that crop up occasionally being addressed by the two sides.
She said differences over quarantine regulations is an issue requiring progress to achieve amutual understanding.
According to Taiwan's quarantine regulations on imports, Australia is classified as an area infected by the Queensland fruit fly and as a result, many fruit items are strictly restricted from being imported to Taiwan.
In response to a question on whether the recent melamine-tainted milk products from China will provide an opportunity for Australian dairy products to gain a bigger share of Taiwan's market, Cawte said that while many Australian dairy products are already available in Taiwan, the country wants to export more.
Australia is Taiwan's second largest source of dairy products, behind to New Zealand and followed by China.
In other areas of bilateral exchanges, Cawte said the working holiday visa program launched in 2004 has been a very successful program in increasing people-to-people contacts.
“It's a fantastic program for young people to gain an understanding, not just getting an understanding for each other's countries, but to build foundations for better links in the long term,”she said.
According to Cawte, the program has been growing in popularity in Taiwan, given that last year alone there were 6,000 people who participated in the program while the total number of working holiday program participants since 2004 reached 8,000.
Australia's Working Holiday Program provides opportunities for people aged between 18 and 30 to holiday in Australia and to supplement their travel through incidental employment.
The working holiday visa, available to eligible candidates once in a lifetime, allows a stay of up to 12 months from the date of first entry to Australia, regardless of whether the holder spends the entire time there.
Working holiday visa holders are permitted to do temporary jobs for up to six months with any one employer and are entitled to study or take a training course for a maximum of four months.


Updated : 2021-04-13 07:31 GMT+08:00