Canada is represented in Taiwan by the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT), a locally-incorporated entity staffed by Canadian government and local Taiwanese personnel. The CTOT facilitates cooperation on trade and investment, science and technology, public policy issues, education and youth exchanges, arts and culture, and aboriginal affairs. The absence of formal diplomatic ties has not prevented a robust and mutually-beneficial relationship from developing between Canada and Taiwan.
People-to-people links are the foundation of the relationship. Currently, there are over 200,000 people of Taiwanese descent residing in Canada and an estimated 50,000 Canadians living in Taiwan. This makes the island home to one of the largest communities of overseas Canadians and the CTOT Canada's fourth-largest passport-issuing office outside North America.
In November 2010, Canada implemented a visa waiver allowing Taiwan passport-holders visa-free stay for up to six months. As a result, the number of Taiwanese visitors to Canada has increased approximately 15% between 2010 and 2011.
As democratic development and good governance figure prominently in Canadian foreign policy priorities, the CTOT has worked to engage Taiwan on areas where it might benefit from Canadian expertise. The current focus is on training government personnel on the two UN human rights Covenants – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which Taiwan has adopted unilaterally and now seeks to integrate into domestic law. The CTOT has also worked with Taiwan in areas relating to migrants' rights, the rights of disabled persons, and ethics in journalism.
Canada-Taiwan ties continue strengthen and diversify through education and youth exchanges. Taiwanese enrolled in long-term studies in Canada contribute $101 million to the Canadian economy making Taiwan Canada's tenth-largest export market for education services (7.9% of Canada's total exports to Taiwan). Through the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, an additional 1000 Taiwanese youth visit Canada each year to work, travel and to engage in short-term studies.
Taiwan is Canada's fourth-largest trading partner in the Asia-Pacific region and ranks 11th worldwide. Total merchandise trade with Taiwan soared to $6.67 billion in 2011, up 27% year-over-year. Canadian exports surged by 35.6% to a record high of $1.75 billion while imports from Taiwan grew by 24.2% to $4.93 billion. This accelerating growth in merchandise trade, building upon already vigorous expansion of 18% in 2010, has demonstrated the increasingly strong economic partnership being forged between Canada and Taiwan. Canada's priority sectors in Taiwan are information and communications technology, agriculture and agri-food, life sciences, building and construction, and transportation. Strategic cooperation on commercial matters is enhanced by the annual Canada-Taiwan Economic Consultations, a platform for setting joint priorities relating to market access, research and innovation, investment and other forms of economic engagement.
Canada's science & technology and research & development linkages with Taiwan continue to be among the strongest and most active Canada has anywhere in the world. The National Research Council, several Canadian universities, and a selection of research-intensive private-sector entities cooperate with Taiwanese counterparts to combine Canadian excellence in pure research with Taiwan's ability to commercialize innovation.
The stock of foreign direct investment in Canada from Taiwan went from $110 million in 2010 to $86 million in 2012, while the stock of Canadian direct investment in Taiwan stood at $483 million in 2010, up from $464 million a year earlier (latest year for which data is available). As Taiwan's economy is dominated by SMEs, the majority of Taiwanese investment in Canada has been pursued by smaller companies, with a sectoral range including chemical manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, retail and ICT. Areas of potential include renewable energy, biotechnology, wireless, and oil sands.
Taiwan and Canada have good cooperation in multilateral organizations where both have representation, such as APEC and the WTO, where we hold similar views on free trade and economic liberalization. Canada and Taiwan also cooperate in several regional fisheries management organizations to combat illegal fishing practices and help ensure a sustainable framework is in place for managing the world's fish stocks. Canada welcomed Taiwan's 2009 invitation to join the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer and was the first country to hold a bilateral meeting with Taiwan on the margins of the Assembly. Canada generally supports Taiwan's full participation in international organizations that do not require statehood as a prerequisite for membership, and meaningful participation in those that do when a practical imperative exists.
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