Taiwanese diplomat sees opportunity in Wyoming

14-Mar-2018 Intellasia | Wyoming Business Report | 6:00 AM Print This Post

A Taiwanese diplomat had a good time last week in Cheyenne.

Wyoming lawmakers voted Wednesday and Thursday to send a bill providing funds to Gov. Matt Mead’s desk for a trade representative to Taiwan. And later that day, the diplomat received an enthusiastic reception from Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr. The two discussed ways to better connect the Capital City to Taiwanese sister city, Taichung.

In an interview Thursday morning, Vincent Yao, director general of the Taipei Office of Cultural and Economic Affairs in Seattle, said he expected both meetings would pay dividends in trade and other partnerships down the road.

Taiwan was the 13th-largest buyer of Wyoming products last year, according to US Census Bureau data, and the ninth-largest seller. Yao said he hopes to improve both rankings.

Adding the trade representative will be a key step in that direction, he added, noting states like Idaho and Washington have had those representatives for decades.

With the right person in place, Wyoming and Taiwan could better coordinate trade as well as cultural and education exchanges, he said.

“This office is the first step to raising the profile of Wyoming,” he said. “You really need someone to be there to follow up with all these ideas and possibilities.”

Taiwan is specifically interested in Wyoming’s clean coal technology, he added.

The island nation 110 miles off the southeast coast of mainland China is currently working to completely end its reliance on nuclear power by 2025 after concerns about the power supply’s stability. Seeing Japan’s Fukushima reactor meltdown following damage from a tsunami in March 2011 made many in Taiwan question the safety of nuclear power, he said.

And while the Taiwanese hope to eventually transition to renewable energy, “that takes time,” he said. Coal can help fill the gap.

He also pointed out that Taiwan was a growing market for American beef, Wyoming’s most lucrative agricultural export. Taiwan purchased $410 million in beef last year, according to the US Meat Export Federation, 61 percent more than it bought five years prior.

Asked for comment, a spokesman for Mead wrote in an email that the governor is “an advocate of trade with Taiwan.”

“He has supported the bill,” spokesman Chris Mickey wrote. “The trade rep is authorised within that bill. We will proceed as authorised.”

Yao also discussed with Orr ways to strengthen the Capital City’s relationship with its sister city Taichung.

Orr said she still had research to do about Taichung and couldn’t say exactly how the cities would collaborate. But she said she hoped to get some ideas on a visit later this year.

“Unlike American cities, they’re very interested in strengthening sister city relationships,” Orr said. “I think there’s a lot we can learn from each other.”

Taichung is an industrial city of more than 2 million people in the island’s central region. It’s known to tourists for its night markets, arts offerings and the Chun Shui Tang teahouse, known by many as the birthplace of bubble tea.



Category: Taiwan

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