Israel, Taiwan celebrate visa pact

Taiwan-Israel Businessmen Friendship Association inaugurated in Tel Aviv.

By NADAV SHEMER
August 11, 2011 23:54
2 minute read.
LIANG-JEN CHANG

Taiwan 311. (photo credit: Yaira Yasminjoin)

 
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The inauguration of the Taiwan- Israel Businessmen Friendship Association and the commencement of the visa-waiver arrangement between the two countries were marked at a ceremony in Tel Aviv on Thursday.

Liang-Jen Chang, Taiwan’s representative in Israel, said now is “a good time for business people in Israel to make a trip to Taiwan.”

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In addition to the visa-waiver agreement, which came into effect Thursday, he said the recent cancellation of the tariff on bilateral trade between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China means Taiwan now offers Israelis businesses another avenue to the world’s second-largest economy.

The Chinese market has 1.3 billion people, but Israelis may have difficulty entering it without local expertise, he said, adding: “We know the market; there are 120 Taiwanese business associations in China. We know the customs, the accounting procedures, everything. So join hands with us and you will be assured of making a bucket of money.”

Taiwan is represented in Israel by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. Like most countries, Israel does not give full diplomatic recognition to Taiwan because of pressure from China.

Mike Chuang, economic director for Taiwan’s office in Israel, said bilateral trade between Israel and Taiwan totals $1.4 billion each year, about $700 million each way. This could reach up to $5b. if all opportunities for partnership are realized, he said.

Jacob Fass, who at the ceremony was named the inaugural chairman of the Taiwan-Israel Businessmen Friendship Association, said Israel could expand business with Taiwan, but not just because of the island’s proximity to China.

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“In the unstable economic world of today, Taiwan is a stable island,” he said. “And Taiwan on its own has great potential for Israel. Today there are 12 ongoing projects in Taiwan [involving Israeli companies]: in hitech, infrastructure and aviation, among others.”

Fass said a lot of work still needed to be done until business relations between the two countries could reach its full potential. He proposed that more delegations of Taiwanese businessmen be brought to Israel so they can see what Israel has to offer them.

“We don’t see many Taiwanese investments in Israel; we don’t see many Taiwanese R&D centers here, although we see them from other countries,” he said. “Israel’s economy is dominated by hi-tech... and many international companies recognize that. Israel has 160 different venture-capital companies, most of them from abroad. But not much comes from Taiwan. So the same way that we look at bringing Israelis to Taiwan, our job is also to bring Taiwanese to Israel.”

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