India and Taiwan have been keen on cultivating economic and cultural ties. With a new Government at the helm, this bond is expected to be stronger
With shared common values of freedom, democracy and human rights, Taiwan and India are natural partners as well as important stakeholders in the Indo-Pacific region. Since the establishment of representative offices in their respective capitals in 1995, there has been steady progress in the relationship spread across various spheres. There have been significant high points. The annual two-way trade between the two increased from $1.2 billion in 2000 to $7 billion last year. It is expected to increase to $10 billion in the next few years. Taiwan’s investment, too, has seen a rise in the past few years. In 2018, there were 105 Taiwanese companies working in different sectors of the Indian economy with a total investment of around $1.5 billion. Over the years, Taiwan has set up 14 language centres in Indian universities and other educational institutions to not only provide Mandarin Chinese language training but also to make connections between young generations of both countries. So far, more than 6,000 Indian students have benefited from the training programme. All of this apart, Taiwan also encourages Indian students to study in Taiwan and awards nearly 100 scholarships for Indian university students annually. Currently, there are about 2,400 students pursuing higher education in Taiwan.
Science, technology and agricultural cooperation between the two countries, too, has seen further expansion. As of May 2019, nearly 90 projects and joint proposals were carried out while 24 seminars were held annually. India and Taiwan held their first Joint Working Committee meeting for agriculture, husbandry and fishery cooperation in 2017. A very positive roadmap for future cooperation in these fields was drawn. The second joint working committee meeting is expected to be held in the latter part of this year. In recent years, cultural and people-to-people exchanges between India and Taiwan have seen a rise. In addition to Taiwanese films being screened annually at major film festivals in India, performing art groups and youth ambassador delegations have been welcomed by art lovers.
The most momentous association was the signing of the bilateral investment agreement on December 18, 2018, to boost trade and investment. This agreement is one of the very first accords India has signed with countries which consider it as a great investment destination. While extending cordial congratulations to the new Government, Taiwan looks forward to strengthening close cooperation and relationship. We strongly believe that India and Taiwan are natural partners with no issues and baggage. As the two nations are complementary to each other in many areas and given Taiwan’s rich experience and expertise in the fields of hardware manufacturing, infrastructure, information and communication technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and food processing among others, Taiwan can play a vital role in the Indian Government’s ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Skill India’ and ‘Smart Cities’ initiatives.
To remember professor C Raja Mohan’s comment in one of his article titled, ‘Modi’s Taiwan Opportunity’ published on May 29 in a leading national daily: “There are at least three reasons why Delhi shall take a fresh look at Taiwan and replace its current incrementalism with a more ambitious policy.” It further said, “What the bilateral relations now need is
high-level political attention in Delhi to make things happen and quickly….” There is no doubt that Taiwan is surely a valuable partner for India. Taiwan’s contribution to India will never and cannot be a liability but a great asset. As India is a key partner under Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy, it is to be hoped that India will cherish its relationship with Taiwan too. Both nations must continue to work together to further strengthen the bilateral relationship and cooperation in areas such as economy and trade, science and technology, cultural, education and people-to-people exchanges in the next five years so as to jointly advance peace, prosperity, security and development for the two countries and the Indo-Pacific region.
(The writer is representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India)