Taiwan pushing for reciprocity on visa-free privileges

03-Oct-2017 Intellasia | CNA | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Taiwan is asking Thailand, Brunei and the Philippines to grant Taiwanese citizens visiting their countries visa-free status to reciprocate the treatment it has given nationals from the three countries.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (???) said in an interview with CNA on Friday that the government is continuing to request that countries given preferential visa-free treatment by Taiwan grant Taiwanese citizens the same privilege.

Premier Lai Ching-te (???) on Thursday approved a plan to allow Filipinos to enter Taiwan for a maximum of 14 days without a visa, but Manila has not reciprocated, sparking concerns of an unequal relationship between the two countries.

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei would only say that it is looking into measures to loosen travel regulations for Taiwanese nationals, without revealing any details on what that might entail.

The Philippines is the latest country that has been approved for Taiwan’s visa-free trial programme, following an extension of the trial programme for Thailand and Brunei in April.

According to Wang, a key consideration in the decision to extend these trial programmes when they do expire will be whether the other countries have give Taiwanese citizens reciprocal treatment.

At the moment, the visa-free treatment for Thais and Bruneians will continue until July 31, 2018.

The visa-free programme is part of Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy, which aims to boost trade, tourism and other exchanges with countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia, partly to reduce the island’s economic dependence on mainland China.

The moves to extend visa privileges to Southeast Asian countries have paid off as visitor arrivals from the region in the first eight months of 2017 were up 38.4 percent from the same period a year earlier at 1.31 million.

Taiwanese citizens travelling to Thailand and Brunei are currently required to pay for a visa on arrival, while those visiting the Philippines can apply for an entry permit through the Electronic Travel Authorisation system online.

While neither Brunei nor the Philippines have ever granted Taiwan visa-free status, Thailand began issuing visas to Taiwanese free of charge beginning in November 2016, but the programme expired at the end of last month.



Category: Taiwan

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