The newly arrived director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta is hoping to “beef up” the island’s trade and investment ties with the Southeast U.S.
Steven Tai, who took up the post two months ago, is hoping to persuade Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to go to Taiwan to highlight the state’s investment opportunities, should he find himself in Asia with a delegation.
“Nowadays, it’s all about the economy, reducing the unemployment rate,” Mr. Tai told Global Atlanta.
He cited a visit last year by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who introduced a group of bourbon companies to the market. Georgia’s signature products could similarly find receptive audiences, Mr. Tai said.
Trade in many sectors like technology and agriculture is already strong. Though down 14 percent, Georgia’s exports to Taiwan stood at $580 million in last year, making it the state’s 16th largest export partner ahead of much larger countries like France, Italy and India.
Even at the national level, Taiwan’s importance shouldn’t be overlooked, Mr. Tai said. In 2012, it was the No. 11 U.S. trading partner with more than $63.2 billion in goods traded.
That relationship could grow even closer in the coming years, as both Taiwan and the United States look to deepen their trade ties with each other and in Southeast Asia.
Taiwan is in the final stages of a trade deal with Singapore that would link the two “Asian tigers” more closely.
He added that the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement signed with China in 2010 makes Taiwan an ideal base from which to reach into the market of 1.3 billion people. He would also like to see Taiwan included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a U.S.-led effort to form a trade bloc composed of countries on both sides of the ocean.
In March, acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis visited Taiwan to for talks on the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and investment Framework Agreement, which have been resumed since Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou dropped restrictions on U.S. beef imports that had stalled the talks since 2007.
Mr. Tai added that Taiwan should be seen as an ongoing source of investment. Georgia has long been a destination for tire and auto parts companies, and a new Taiwanese plastics factory could be on the horizon very soon for Gwinnett County, hinted David Wang, the director of the economic division at the TECO office.
Mr. Wang also noted that Taiwan would welcome Atlanta companies’ participation in a new aerotropolis project launched last September at Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport. It is to attract $15.5 billion in public and private investment over the next decade.
Plans call for new metro stations, logistics centers, airline maintenance facilities, manufacturing space, apartments and more as Taiwan seeks to compete with neighboring countries that have embraced the “airport city” concept. A third runway and third terminal would enable Taoyuan to handle 60 million passengers a year by 2018, more than double the nearly 28 million from last year.
Mr. Tai replaced Anna Kao, who returned to Taipei to become a spokeswoman for the ministry of foreign affairs.
For more information or to contact the Taipei office, visit www.teco.org.