John Woodward, right, accepts a donation of 5,000 masks from Martin Chen, economic director at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. The donation originated from the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei, a group that has grown its relationship with Atlanta.

Without trade delegations to deepen international friendship these days, many countries and organizations are turning to sending masks, gloves and other protective gear as gestures of goodwill.  

That has certainly been the case with Taiwan, as the government has become a steady donor of masks, including a recent shipment of 10,000 of the coveted N95 variety, to the state of Georgia.  

The Metro Atlanta Chamber Thursday became the latest beneficiary of Taiwanese largesse, as an industry association in Taipei made a trans-Pacific donation that underscored the deep ties the two organizations have built over four in-person visits in the last two years. 

John Woodward, global commerce vice president at the chamber, accepted a donation of 5,000 medical masks presented by Martin Chen, director of the economic division at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta.  

But the original sender was the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei, which signed an agreement with the Atlanta chamber in March 2019 to cooperate on trade and investment matters.  

The occasion for the initial deal was last year’s visit by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Atlanta-Taipei sister-city relationship. Read: With New Agreement, Taipei and Atlanta Seek to Revive Decades-Old Trade Ties 

Peter W.J. Huang, the IEAT chairman, told Global Atlanta at the time that U.S.-China tensions were hastening the merging of markets and manufacturing — meaning that more companies would begin to make things closer to where they plan to sell them. 

“If we want to grab opportunities in the future, now is the time to come. Otherwise we will miss the train,” Mr. Huang said, hinting that the Southeast U.S. could expect more Taiwanese investment.  

Mr. Woodward, whose role encompasses attracting FDI, seems to have taken that to heart, visiting Taiwan twice since. On one occasion last fall, he presented Atlanta’s charms at an investment seminar at the IEAT headquarters in Taipei. He had also met Mr. Huang again at the SelectUSA investment summit in Washington last summer.  

“We are most appreciative of our relationship with IEAT, and indeed grateful for this kind gift. (The chamber) will work with partners to distribute these masks in the Atlanta region. We applaud Taiwan for its deft handling of the COVID-19 situation. And we look forward to the days we can resume our regular meetings and collaboration,” Mr. Woodward told Global Atlanta via email.  

The TECO office is working to deepen its outreach throughout the South in what it sees as an opportune moment in geopolitics as skepticism grows over China’s role in the world racked by a pandemic.

Learn more about Director-General Elliot Yi-lung Wang’s plans and thoughts on further trade and investment integration in this recent Global Atlanta interview: New Taiwan Diplomat Sees Opportunity in U.S.-China Rift 

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...