Representative Michael Peiyung Hsu

As an ancient proverb goes, “A close neighbor is more important than a brother who is far away, “ Taiwan and the Philippines have long been important close neighbors enjoying cordial bilateral ties and close bond.

Taiwan and the Philippines are closer than one can think of. It takes only one hour and 45 minutes by airplane to travel from Taiwan to the Philippines. An urban legend even states that one can hear a rooster crow in Batanes from the southernmost tip of Taiwan.

Taiwan and the Philippines are not only geographically close to each other, more importantly, both also share common values of freedom, democracy, free media, rule of law, civil society, and similar Austronesian culture. In addition, Taiwanese and Filipinos share common traits of being friendly, optimistic, courteous, caring, and hardworking.

The Philippines has been prioritized by the Republic of China (Taiwan) government as the gateway to ASEAN countries under the “New Southbound Policy.”

Based on the “New Southbound Policy,” Taiwan hopes to strengthen cooperation with the Philippines in various fields including trade and investment, agriculture, fisheries aquaculture, technology, small and medium enterprises, Information and Communication Technology, green technology, climate change, as well as education, culture, and people-to-people interactions and exchanges.

Taiwan and the Philippines also share close economic ties. In 2018, Taiwan was Philippines’ 8th largest trading partner, 10th largest export market and 8th largest source of imports. The bilateral trade volume reached US$7.91 billion. Nine Taiwanese banks, which are Mega Bank, China Trust Bank (CTBC), Cathay United bank, Yuanta Savings Bank, Taiwan Cooperative Bank, Hua Nan Bank, First Bank, Chang Hwa Bank and the Bank of Taiwan, are operating in the Philippines.

With respect to tourism, to continue to enhance the two countries’ bilateral relations and cooperation as well as people-to-people exchange and connectivity, Taiwan has extended the visa-exemption privilege for Filipinos to July 31, 2019. This visa-free privilege is a display of Taiwan’s goodwill and friendship towards all Filipinos under Taiwan’s “New Southbound Policy.”

A total of 419,105 visitors from the Philippines visited Taiwan in 2018, up 44.13 percent compared with 2017, following the implementation of the visa-free privilege for Filipinos. Taiwan is also the Philippines’ 6th top tourist source market.

Taiwan is the host to about 150,000 Filipino workers, who are treated with dignity and respect and are well protected under the law in Taiwan. They are guaranteed by the Republic of China (Taiwan) national minimum wage required by law and receive the same national health insurance as the ROC nationals do. Taiwanese deeply appreciate their hardworking and contribution to Taiwan’s economic development and growth.

“A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Whenever there are natural calamities in the Philippines, Taiwan has always been one of the first countries to extend humanitarian assistance.

The government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) announced on July 2, 2019 that the visa-free privilege for the nationals of the Philippines will continue for another year from August 1, 2019, through July 31, 2020. This privilege is a display of Taiwan’s amity with the Philippines as the country continues to boost the travel convenience for Filipinos to visit Taiwan for leisure, business, or other short-term purposes. The visa-free privilege also aims to deepen Taiwan’s multifaceted relations with the Philippines, particularly in the fields of tourism, trade, investment, education, agriculture, fisheries and healthcare, etc.