Chinese Taipei, Russia Intensify Cooperation
Scores of students from Chinese Taipei study in Moscow and St. Petersburg, while Russian and related studies have long been established disciplines at universities in Taiwan. In recent years, world-renowned performance groups such as Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan and Ju Percussion Group have won much praise during their tours to Moscow. In June this year, Russian cellist Natalia Gutman and conductor Mikhail Pletnev, head of the Russian National Orchestra, performed in Chinese Taipei. Numerous ballet groups from Russia have also performed in Taiwan over the years.
In November 2011, the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium (NMMBA) in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan signed a memorandum of understanding with the Primorsky Aquarium, which is being built on Russky Island off Russia’s eastern port city of Vladivostok. Areas of cooperation cover aquaculture technology, marine conservation and education, personnel training and exchanges of specific animals for exhibition.
The Primorsky Aquarium was designed by Taipei-based Huang’s Green Country Industrial Co. and aims to follow the NMMBA’s focus on education and research. Another two Taiwanese firms, Paul Chen Aquatic Tech Co. and Formosoft International Inc., will provide large-scale aquarium life support systems and virtual reality exhibits respectively for the Russian oceanarium.
Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei agreed earlier this year to open two APEC Digital Opportunity Centers (ADOC) in the Russian cities of Kazan and Orenburg. Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang from Chinese Taipei and representatives from the chambers of commerce of the two cities inked the pacts on June 5 this year in Kazan during Shih’s trip to attend the APEC ministerial meeting on trade. The new centers will be the second and third in Russia following one set up in Yaroslavl, 250 kilometers northeast of Moscow, in 2011. The Yaroslavl center has since trained 2,600 people.
Proposed by Chinese Taipei at the 2003 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Bangkok, the ADOC project is designed to assist small and medium enterprises and disadvantaged groups in creating digital opportunities. It does so by providing information technology training in order to help citizens generate income and improve their quality of life. Since its launch in 2004, the ADOC project has established 92 training centers in 10 APEC member economies including Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam, and benefited more than 300,000 people.
Regarding commercial links between Chinese Taipei and Russia, as trade volume has increased over time the types of goods being traded have diversified. When Chinese Taipei and Russia first started trading with each other in the early 1990s, the exchanges were mostly one way and primarily consisted of Chinese Taipei importing timber from Russia. Today, Chinese Taipei’s main exports to Russia include telephones; solid-state, non-volatile storage devices; liquid crystal displays; machinery components; steel screws and digital cameras. Imports from Russia mainly include bituminous coal, iron, diesel fuel, liquefied natural gas and crude oil.
Based on customs statistics from Chinese Taipei, two-way trade with Russia amounted to US$3.88 billion in 2011, up 13.45 percent from 2010, while Chinese Taipei’s shipments to Russia reached US$1.52 billion, up 40.51 percent year-on-year. Both dollar amounts represent record highs. Overall, Russia is Chinese Taipei’s 25th largest trading partner.
Russia is the biggest market in central and eastern Europe and possesses high growth potential as an emerging economy. As such, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, better known as TAITRA and Chinese Taipei’s foremost nonprofit trade promotion agency, started listing Russia as one of its target markets in 2009.
Over the last few years, TAITRA has organized a number of trade missions to Russia. Chinese Taipei’s promotional efforts began in Moscow, a city with more than 10 million residents, and St. Petersburg, with about 5 million people. The trade agency now extends its promotional efforts to include the smaller cities of Chelyabinsk, Kazan, Krasnodar, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Samara and Ufa, each of which has a population of more than 1 million people.
During their visits to Russia, delegations from Chinese Taipei have participated in a number of local trade shows to present their latest products. They have also conducted trade meetings with prospective buyers to discuss possible business cooperation and invited them to attend trade exhibitions in Taiwan.
When Russia joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2011, the terms of accession included reductions to the country’s import tariff ceiling. The rates will be cut to 7.8 percent, compared with an average of 10 percent for all products in 2011. Moreover, Russia agreed to sign the Information Technology Agreement (ITA)—a trade pact that requires participants to eliminate tariffs on a wide range of IT products—within three years of its entry into the world trade body. Russia’s membership in the WTO and the country’s future involvement in the ITA are expected to present great opportunities to increase bilateral trade with Chinese Taipei.