Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo and Taiwan’s Economics Minister Shen Jong-chin signed a resolution for the establishment of the joint committee under the Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECA) between Taiwan and Eswatini, which took effect in December 2018.
Taiwan and Eswatini established a joint committee on Wednesday to push for bilateral economic cooperation.
“With the economy in Africa growing, Eswatini is aggressively integrating itself with the region economically and enjoys preferential tariff status with more than 20 counterparts in the region and the African ally is expected to serve as a base for Taiwanese companies that have set their sights on the growing African market,” Shen said.
Eswatini is one of Taiwan’s 17 diplomatic allies and the only one in Africa.
Shen said many Taiwanese exporters have expressed interest in working with Eswatini to extend their reach in the African market, and if necessary, the ministry of economic affairs (MoEA) will organise delegations to visit the country and facilitate bilateral cooperation.
“Currently, some Taiwanese textile companies function very well in Eswatini and for an expansion of economic ties, the MoEA is planning to provide assistance to Taiwanese companies to develop agriculture and food processing businesses there,” he continued.
According to Shen, textile maker Tex-Ray Industrial Co. has established a sound foundation in Eswatini in its core business, and Tex-Ray Chairman Lin Jui-yueh is even planning to grow avocado pears.
He further stated that he has invited I-Mei Foods Co, one of Taiwan’s leading food brands, to team up with Tex-Ray in a bid to explore the agriculture and processing food market in the African country.
Addressing the ceremony for the establishment of the joint economic cooperation committee, Khumalo said his ministry aims to take advantage of Eswatini’s investment policy to help the country’s agriculture business become more export-oriented and strengthen its competitiveness.
On the back of the ECA and the joint economic cooperation committee, Khumalo said he expected bilateral economic ties to grow quickly.
Khumalo led a three-member delegation to Taiwan on Sunday and the visit ended yesterday.
According to the Bureau of Foreign Trade, bilateral trade between Taiwan and Eswatini totalled US$10.54 million in 2018, up from US$7.6 million in 2017.
“We are all aware that it is becoming increasingly difficult for national standards bodies to cope with the growing number and complexity of various industries, human demands, and trade regulations. Despite these, Taiwan has shown capacity to steer its complex mandate in Eswatini,” he said.
Khumalo further stated that the Kingdom of Eswatini through the ECA will continue to increase and strengthen its capacity to address the need for sustainable and transformative change in the way systems of the food related industry operate, for the benefit of human health and development of food trade, and ultimately help eliminate hunger around the world.
“Eswatini holds our long-standing friendship in very high regard and in this respect will continue to lend a supportive voice in international fora for the inclusion of Taiwan in cross-cutting discussions on the global welfare of the world’s health, financial and climate systems for the betterment of humanity in its entirety, especially in the promotion and respect of Taiwan’s self-determination,” he said.
He also disclosed that the ministry’s aim is to formulate trade/investment policies that help create sustainable increases in agricultural productivity, the competitiveness of the products produced, and improvements in the supply and availability of food and other products from the crop, livestock, fisheries and forestry sectors.
“As a developing country, we still look at the textile and apparel as well as manufacturing to expand our export power. We are also taking leaf from the Taiwan success stories, hoping to use the ECA to improve the agriculture and agri-processing industry for the local market and export. We are striving to be a self-sustainable country that will produce and process enough to feed the nation and the world over,” he added.