National Development Council (NDC) Minister Kung Ming-hsin held bilateral talks via videoconference with Lithuanian Minister of the Economy and Innovation Aušrinė Armonaitė on January 11. The talks were organized as a follow-up to Taiwan’s 2021 trade delegation to central and eastern Europe.
During the talks, which established specific avenues for the countries to strengthen cooperation on economics, trade, and scientific research, Minister Kung reiterated that Taiwan was a reliable and staunch friend of Lithuania. He said that Taiwan would continue to deepen cooperation and work with Lithuania to build resilient and democratic supply chains and advance unity and resilience among the global community of democracies, while also continuing to do its utmost to assist Lithuania in dealing with China’s economic coercion.
In remarks directed toward all circles of Lithuanian society during an online press conference following the talks, Minister Kung and Minister Armonaitė stressed that Taiwan and Lithuania were like-minded partners that share the values of freedom and democracy. They said that exchanges and cooperation among various fields would continue to grow even closer in the future.
During the talks, Minister Kung said that exchanges between Taiwan and Lithuania were based on democratic values. Noting that cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic had done much to create a virtuous cycle, he said Taiwan would continue to expand this progress into economics and trade-related fields.
Minister Kung also emphasized that following the recent visit of Taiwan’s delegation to Lithuania, which saw the signing of numerous MOUs and the formation of a common consensus during talks, Taiwan had immediately sought to implement the delegation’s relevant commitments. He said Taiwan had held a series of follow-up and coordination meetings and would proceed proactively according to the plans that had been drawn up. He added that these commitments would be actively implemented not only by government departments, but also by the manufacturers and related business sectors that had participated in the delegation and its numerous business talks.
Given the abundant results of Taiwan’s 2021 trade delegation to central and eastern Europe, in her 2022 New Year’s Address, President Tsai Ing-wen announced a government-wide plan to strengthen ties with Europe. Minister Kung emphasized that the NDC had already drawn up plans for a central and eastern European investment fund and associated financial mechanisms, which, starting with Lithuania, would create a favorable financial environment for enterprises from all sides to engage in matchmaking and cooperation. He said that in addition to the US$200 million central and eastern Europe investment fund, Taiwan had also set aside a further US$1 billion for a credit fund to advance sustainable cooperation between Taiwan and Lithuania and invest in industries and fields with great potential for cooperation. He said the areas covered by the six MOUs already signed and other complementary industries worthy of cooperation were all potential targets for financing and investment through the investment and financing funds announced by Taiwan.
Minister Kung said the relevant funds would be invested as soon as concrete items were identified that benefit the industrial development of both sides and support sustainable bilateral cooperation. He said this would accelerate the formation of bilateral trade ties, create democratic supply chains with solid, long-term benefits, and craft a story of successful cooperation between Taiwan and Lithuania that would amaze the world.
Remarking that one of the more concrete manifestations of bilateral cooperation had been the field of semiconductors, Minister Kung said that the NDC, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the Ministry of Science and Technology would be establishing a special taskforce for industrial cooperation between Taiwan and Europe in the field of semiconductors. He said that the taskforce, to be managed by the Industrial Technology Research Institute, would plan to carry out local surveys so as to assist Lithuania in evaluating its positioning and approach to developing supply chains, as well as cooperate to cultivate the talent required in related fields.
Turning to Lithuania’s advanced laser industry, Minister Kung said that links had already been forged between Taiwanese academic and research units and Lithuanian enterprises. In addition, concrete progress had been made in technical cooperation in such industries as electric buses and biotechnology.
Regarding the increasingly heavy-handed economic coercion inflicted upon Lithuania by China, Minister Kung spoke for the Taiwan government in stressing to Minister Armonaitė that the government and people of Taiwan greatly cherished the international virtuous circle that Taiwan and Lithuania had created. He said that the relevant ministries and government agencies would make a concerted effort to make direct procurements from Lithuania, assist in increasing domestic sales channels, and make recommendations regarding relocation and market diversification, as well as engage in such rapid and effective actions as joint consultations on supply chain reconfiguration. He said that Taiwan and like-minded partners would continue to assist Lithuania to overcome the hurdles posed by economic coercion.
In his discussions with Minister Armonaitė, Minister Kung was particularly keen to stress that Taiwan had accumulated substantive experience with regard to China’s economic coercion. He said that despite China’s reducing the number of tourists visiting Taiwan and its suppression of Taiwanese agricultural products, Taiwan continued to uphold freedom and democracy and remained undaunted, and, having actively sought to strengthen trade links with like-minded partners, had posted record economic growth. Minister Kung said that even if China’s economic coercion caused a degree of impact in the short term, Taiwan, Lithuania, and the global alliance of democracies would be able to strengthen their resilience and their ability to counter authoritarian economic pressure as long as they bolstered trade and investment, industrial matchmaking, and cooperation on supply chain security, as well as created strong supply chains. This would show Taiwan-Lithuania cooperation to be a success story for freedom and democracy.
Minister Armonaitė thanked Taiwan for its unswerving determination to support Lithuania, which she compared to Lithuania’s own rock-solid, 30-year commitment to safeguarding freedom and democracy. She went on to explain that Lithuania was currently selecting officials and conducting related administrative procedures for the office it expected to formally open in Taiwan this spring, which she said would deepen trade, investment, and substantive bilateral ties.
Both ministers reiterated that the two sides would continue to support one another and seek to overcome difficulties together. They said that closer cooperation would be sure to generate new avenues for mutual sustainable development and promote solidarity and resilience among the global alliance of democracies.