Urmas Paet: Free societies could be preferred in foreign trade

MEP Urmas Paet (Reform).
MEP Urmas Paet (Reform). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Estonia should look to Taiwan with more courage and confidence, especially as concerns economic ties. Looking should be followed by action.

Estonian companies and Enterprise Estonia (EAS) are always on the lookout for new Asian markets where Estonian businesses need a push. I recently heard their gaze has fallen on the authoritarian communist regime in Vietnam, which EAS even describes as "the star of Vietnam shining in Southeast Asia."

Instead of the communist regime, I would suggest looking to the free society of Taiwan, which shares the European Union's values. EU companies are the biggest investors in Taiwan. The country and its 20 million inhabitants are the EU's 12th largest trade partner, while the EU is Taiwan's fourth. The annual goods trade volume exceeds €73 billion. EU companies have invested €50 billion in Taiwan.

Finland, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands, among others, export more to Taiwan than they import.

In addition to trade, we should also work on Taiwanese investments in Estonia. Taiwanese companies have made major investments in EU countries recently.

Taiwan has an EU trade center and 16 Member States have their own representations.

Therefore, we should bet on legal clarity and democratic trade partners, instead of looking to the communist repressive society of Vietnam.

The attitudes of the People's Republic of China should not affect economic ties with Taiwan either. China and Taiwan pursue extensive trade and other European states' economic ties are also not affected by China, as evidenced in the aforementioned statistics.

We should finally realize that that political risk in economic relations is smallest in democratic states based on rule of law, which is what Taiwan is, together with Japan and South Korea.

Urmas Paet
Vice-Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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