ROC-Eswatini Economic and Technical Cooperation Conference Achieves Fruitful Outcomes
The 23rd ROC-Kingdom of Eswatini Economic and Technical Cooperation Conference was convened on July 15, with the two sides discussing various issues, such as enhancement of Eswatini's digital information and internet infrastructure and talent capacity building, assistance on rural water supply infrastructure, bilateral exchanges on special economic zone one-stop service center operations, protection of indigenous knowledge, and technical collaboration related to fair trade and competition.
The meeting, which was held in virtual format due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, was co-chaired by ROC Minister of Economic Affairs Mei-Hua Wang and Eswatini Minister of Economic Planning & Development Thambo Gina.
In her opening remarks, Minister Wang stated that the ROC on Taiwan greatly values its close friendship with Eswatini forged over more than 50 years of official diplomatic relations. Noting that the African Union has selected Eswatini to host the African Electronic Trade Group's regional office for southern Africa and that the ICT sector will be key to transforming Eswatini's economy, she stressed that Taiwan is more than willing to share its experience in ICT-related development to assist Eswatini in this process and, in turn, attract more foreign investment.
Meanwhile, Minister Gina expressed his appreciation for the ROC's assistance in a range of areas, including with respect to helping Eswatini in improving its digital and internet infrastructure, which has contributed to the country's overall economic development over the years. Noting that the ROC and Eswatini formally implemented an Economic Cooperation Agreement in December 2018, the Minister said he looks forward to the two sides working together to tap the significant opportunities presented by this bilateral accord. He further stated that Eswatini will continue to actively support the ROC's rights as a member of the international community based on the principle of universality.
Regarding potable water supply for rural areas, the ROC side said that it is more than willing to provide needed support in enhancing Eswatini's related infrastructure so as to help improve the lives of the country's rural population. The ROC delegation also agreed to continue providing technical consultancy and other services to assist in improving Eswatini's digital and internet infrastructure, including with its National Data Center-Disaster Recovery Site and SEZ one-stop service center projects.
As for Eswatini's plans to develop an Indigenous Knowledge System to assist its indigenous groups in commercializing their intellectual and cultural property, the Council of Indigenous Peoples introduced Taiwan's successful experience in the preservation and promotion of the history, culture and traditions of the island's indigenous peoples. The ROC delegation also expressed Taiwan's willingness to engage in relevant experience- and knowledge-sharing exchanges to assist Eswatini in achieving its goals in this regard.
The two sides also reached consensus on continuing substantive cooperation and exchanges between the Taiwan Fair Trade Commission and the Eswatini Competition Commission, as well as on the issue of difficulties faced by Taiwanese textile enterprises operating in Eswatini that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ROC side also invited more Eswatini businesses to participate in Taiwan's international trade fairs as an effective way to promote their products and expand their overseas sales.
Despite the serious global economic impact of COVID-19, Taiwan has been able to maintain strong economic growth, with GDP rising by more than 8.1% in the first quarter of this year. Eswatini's economy has also weathered the storm better than most, registering growth of 3.8%, which is the highest among all members of the Southern African Customs Union. These figures demonstrate the resilience of both the Taiwan and Eswatini economies amid the ongoing pandemic. Looking ahead, the ROC and Eswatini delegations both pledged to continue working to strengthen their economic and technological cooperation so as to generate even more mutually beneficial win-win outcomes and further strengthen their already close partnership.