Building on my visit to Taiwan in September, we will continue to work with the Taiwanese authorities to address market access issues and to further increase our trade in this important market. The UK and Taiwan share a strongly favourable outlook on free trade and enjoy a robust trade partnership. Bilateral trade reached £5.9 billion in 2014, up 8% compared with 2010.
I am pleased that the Minister met the Taiwanese President in September. I hope he shares my belief that as Britain reaches out to secure more trade deals, we keep in sight our foreign policy values. Does the Minister agree that increased trade with Taiwan and the UK is a win for both our economies and our liberal democratic values?
I very much agree with the hon. Gentleman. The UK and Taiwan share so many commitments, including the importance of environmental protection and the importance of a free society. We also have very strong shared values of free trade, open markets and an openness to foreign investment. I had very productive talks with President Tsai in September. She is a big friend of the United Kingdom, not least because of her time as an undergraduate at the London School of Economics.
Yes. In terms of both trade with Taiwan and the Commonwealth, the Department remains extremely supportive of Members being involved. In relation to the Commonwealth Trade Ministers meeting, I very much hope the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association will be involved in those discussions.
With trade deals in place for the likes of Bushmills whiskey and Northern Ireland pork products, will the Minister outline how he intends to use that success for other agri-food business products, such as long-life dairy supplied by Lakeland Dairies to 77 countries across the world?
When I held talks with the Taiwan authorities in September, agricultural produce was very much at the centre of those talks. We talked about pork and poultry exports, and we made real progress on Scotch whisky. Taiwan is Scotch whisky’s third-largest global market and we made important progress on it being certified by Taiwan.
I know a lot of British businesses focus on the China market, for obvious reasons, but when I led a delegation to Taiwan in September, as chairman of the British-Taiwanese all-party group, I witnessed a vibrant economy. Does the Minister agree that if British businesses ignore Taiwan they are missing a trick?
I totally agree. I think my hon. Friend and I were in Taiwan at roughly the same time back in September. I applaud the work he does for the all-party group. Taiwan has been a longstanding open market for UK goods and services, and we need to ensure that we work hard to remove the few remaining barriers. That was the purpose of the Joint Economic Trade Committee—or JETCO—talks in September. The message from this House should go out loud and clear to British businesses that Taiwan is a very good place for them to do their business.