India and Taiwan should firm up the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) at the earliest as it will remove all barriers to trade and investment and help create a resilient supply chain, Government Representative at Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India Baushuan Ger said.
The Taiwanese representative said Taiwan is keen to share its expertise with India in critical sectors such as semiconductors, 5G, information security and artificial intelligence and that his country can be an "excellent" partner to develop India's high-tech supply chain.
Mr. Ger said Taiwan has been actively pursuing FTA with like-minded trading partners including India and reaffirmed Taipei's focus on supporting the rules-based international order.
"The signing of the FTA will further remove all trade and investment barriers and lead to a jump in bilateral trade and investment," Mr. Ger told PTI.
"In addition, it will help attract Taiwan companies to invest in India to establish production bases, sell India-made products to the world, and help India transform into a global manufacturing centre," Mr. Ger said.
Mr. Ger’s comments came amid escalating tensions in the Taiwan Strait following China’s military build-up in the region in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island of more than 23 million people in August. China considers Taiwan as its breakaway province.
Taiwan is a leading producer of semiconductors globally and at least a couple of Taiwanese companies have shown interest in India's production-linked incentives (PLIs) scheme worth ₹76,000 crore for the electronics sector.
"To build on the momentum of increasing bilateral investment and trade collaboration, it is high time that Taiwan and India consider signing an FTA at the earliest possible in order to create a secure and resilient supply chain and more value-added platforms for long-term cooperation," Mr. Ger said.
India does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but both sides have trade and people-to-people relations.
Following the eastern Ladakh border row with China, some experts in India have been pushing for upgrading New Delhi's ties with Taipei, especially in the trade and investment sectors.
The Taiwanese representative said given the changing international political and economic dynamics, there is an opportunity for India to play a more important role in the supply chain "realignment".
Mr. Ger said Taiwan has comprehensive supply chains and ecosystems in the manufacturing sectors including semiconductors and noted that a deeper trade collaboration would be beneficial to both sides.
Last year, the two sides set up four groups with a focus on setting up of a semiconductor hub, training manpower for the industry, to explore a bilateral investment pact and a free trade agreement.
"Since the U.S.-China trade conflicts, Taiwanese companies have shown flexibility while acting in line with the government's 'New Southbound Policy'. Specifically, many have relocated their production bases back to Taiwan or to Southeast Asian countries," Mr. Ger said.
"The sectors involved include high-end servers, ICT equipment, smart transportation, panels, and automated production lines, etc," Mr. Ger added.
Unveiled in 2016, the New Southbound Policy is aimed at expanding political, economic, and people-to-people linkages with democratic countries including India.
Mr. Ger said Taiwan has advantages in semiconductors and electronics manufacturing, including U.S.-recognised 5G, clean network technology, as well as AI, information security and smart cities technology.
Mr. Ger said Taiwan could be an "excellent" partner for India's high-tech supply chain and product development.
"Other areas of potential cooperation include machine tools, photovoltaics, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. We are looking forward to strengthening cooperation with India in these areas for mutual benefits," Mr. Ger said.
He envoy said India has been actively attracting foreign investment and made every effort to optimise the investment environment with favourable incentives.
"Therefore, specific examples show that Taiwanese major mobile phone manufacturers such as Wistron, Foxconn and Pegatron have successfully moved their production lines to India with the support of India's Production-linked Incentive (PLI)," Mr. Ger said.
Mr. Ger emphasised that both sides can focus on specific areas and bring together related stakeholders, including public and private sectors, academia and think tanks to encourage and strengthen the resilience, security and stability of supply chains for each other.
Mr. Ger said Taiwan has been actively pursuing FTA with like-minded trading partners.
"Taiwan's 'New Southbound Policy and India's Act East initiative are instrumental in deepening our bilateral engagement," Mr. Ger said.
"With an increasing domestic labour shortage, Taiwan is looking for a manufacturing partner. India has an abundant talent pool and will make a perfect partner for Taiwan," the representative said.
He further added that as the world's 22nd-largest economy in terms of GDP and a major semiconductor manufacturer, Taiwan plays a key role in the global supply chains.
Mr. Ger said as a defender of democracy, Taiwan is working to support the rules-based international order.
Though India and Taiwan do not have formal diplomatic ties, the bilateral trade relations have been on an upswing.
In 1995, New Delhi set up India-Taipei Association (ITA) in Taipei to promote interactions between the two sides and to facilitate business, tourism and cultural exchanges.
India-Taipei Association has also been authorised to provide all consular and passport services.
In the same year, Taiwan too established the Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in Delhi.