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U.K. to compete for iTaiwan projects: British Trade Minister

Taipei, Jan. 15 (CNA) British Minister for Trade, Investment and Consumer Affairs Gareth Thomas announced Thursday that U.K.
businesses will compete for 12 iTaiwan projects and will also share their expertise and extensive international experience with the Taiwanese government through the process.
Thomas made the remarks in a press conference held in Taipei after attending a luncheon co-organized by several Taipei-based foreign chambers of commerce in which he commented on the U.K's responses to the challenges of the global economic downturn.
According to the British Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei (BTCO) , Thomas will attend Taiwanese-British bilateral trade talks during his Jan. 14-16 visit to discuss reducing regulations and improving access for companies in both Taiwan and the United Kingdom to each other's markets.
"Due to the rapid growth and development in Southeast Asia, the British government has renewed the importance of the Taiwanese market for the U.K., " said Thomas, adding that the accession of Taiwan to the World Trade Organization's (WTO's) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) potentially offers new opportunities for British businesses in the sectors of infrastructure and transport equipment, as well as other areas of Taiwan's public contracts that are now open to international competition.
Thomas said Taiwan's joining of the GPA is a win-win situation, as the U.K. and other WTO members can export their services and businesses to Taiwan and the Taiwanese public will be able to enjoy higher quality services as well as gain access to higher technology and more complex skills.
The WTO Committee on Government Procurement formally approved the accession of Taiwan -- under the name the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu -- to the GPA Dec. 9 last year.
The agreement is to make laws, regulations, procedures and practices regarding government procurement more transparent and to ensure they do not protect domestic products or suppliers, or discriminate against foreign products or suppliers.
"After meeting with Taiwan's vice minister of economic affairs earlier today, I am sure that the Taiwanese government will grant equal terms to British businesses in the competition for the nation's public contracts, " said Thomas, adding that with more competition will come lower prices and higher value for the dollar in the iTaiwan projects.
"Britain has benefited in the same way from Taiwanese investments in the U.K.," said Thomas, adding that once the GPA comes into effect next month, it will not only benefit British businesses but also Taiwanese consumers, as the bidding process will be much more transparent and effective compared to the past.
Commenting on the current economic climate, Thomas said the British government must help U.K. companies to diversify their markets and succeed in countries that are still developing.
"Taiwan, like the rest of Southeast Asia, is a growing market for U.K. companies and my visit is proof that the British government is committed to doing all it can to help companies make the most of global opportunities," he added.
Asked about his opinion on the distribution of consumer vouchers by Taiwan's government to stimulate domestic spending amid the current economic downturn, Thomas said the U.K. has also adopted similar measures by reducing the tax on goods by 2.5 percent as well as encouraging more lending by banks to small- and medium-sized businesses.
According to statistics provided by the BTCO in Taipei, with bilateral trade in goods valued at over 3.3 billion euros (US$4.51 billion), the U.K. was Taiwan's third-largest trading partner in Europe in 2007.
In addition, Thomas went on, another important purpose of his visit is to promote the collaboration of academic institutions in the U.K. and Taiwan in the development of the information and communication technology and nanobiotechnology sectors, adding that such cooperation would be of mutual benefit to both sides.
Thomas said he would be meeting Transport and Communications Minister Mao Chi-kuo and Interior Minister Liao Liou-yi Friday to further discuss the opportunities for U.K.-Taiwan collaboration, especially in the transport and urban regeneration sectors.
According to BTCO officials, Thomas will also meet representatives of Britain's Lloyds Register to hear about the success that Lloyds Register and other U.K. rail companies have achieved for Taiwan's High Speed Railway.
Thomas' visit to Taiwan is part of an Asia visit that includes Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.
(By Luis Yu)

Updated : 2021-08-05 23:41 GMT+08:00