Claudia Liu and Ted Chen, Focus Taiwan
11 May 2015
Taipei - President Ma Ying-jeou urged the United States Monday to provide further assistance with Taiwan's military submarine program, which has seen little progress in the past 11 years.
During a meeting with Raymond Burghardt, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Ma expressed hope for help from the U.S. as Taiwan continues to pursue its submarine program through a combination of indigenous development and imports.
Burghardt arrived in Taiwan a day earlier on a routine visit, his 17th trip to Taiwan. The AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.
Ma expressed his affirmation of the stable relations between the two nations in light of recent events since Burghardt's previous visit last September.
On collaborations in regional security, Ma said that Taiwan's efforts include US$18.3 billion-worth of imports of U.S. weapons. In addition, the U.S. government last year signed into law the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2013 that made possible the sale of two Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates to Taiwan.
The sale of the frigates underline the importance of Taiwan's security in the eyes of the American government, Ma said.
Ma said he is delighted to see trade being fostered between Taiwan and the U.S., as the U.S. last year surpassed Japan as Taiwan's second-largest trading partner. Over the same period, Taiwan also surpassed Saudi Arabia and India to become the U.S.'s 10th-largest trading partner.
Ma also thanked the U.S. for its support, and said that Taiwan's chances of attaining participation in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty are expected to improve as the trade bloc gains political traction stateside.
Since Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks two years ago, the platform has made further dialogue possible and Taiwan will continue to seek to expand bilateral investment and collaborative efforts in electronic commerce with the U.S., Ma added.