The significance of the visit of Taiwan’s Foreign Minister to Saint Lucia must not escape us. The Minister’s pledge to develop deeper ties with Saint Lucia are already bearing results with the signing of a cooperation agreement between our local law enforcement and Taiwan’s. Since the Government took office it has been in discussions with Taiwan to broaden our relationship. On top of holding discussions locally Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet and his wife, along with a contingent, visited Taiwan in November 2017 to hold discussions on the new relationship the government is seeking to build. But what is this new relationship and what does it entail?
Since Saint Lucia re-established relations with Taiwan in 2007 the level of bilateral cooperation spanned a cross-section of areas including agriculture, health, human resource development, community development and empowerment, sports, infrastructure and ICT. Now, we have added police cooperation which Security Minister Honourable Hermangild Francis, stated will “see us explore various areas of mutual benefit and assist us in effectively preventing and combating cross-border serious crimes and terrorism.”
“We want to see more practical cooperation between the police and customs authorities and international governments where we set up joint investigative teams depending on the case to speed up our ability to solve cases,” the minister noted. “We look forward to the exchange of personnel visiting for study and training programs and sharing of information as well as cooperation in combating transnational crimes. We also need to create such partnerships in order to tap into the expertise offered by countries such as Taiwan especially as it relates to the use of technology.”
The government’s vision is to have Taiwan get more out of its relationship with Saint Lucia and spread the cooperation to include the private sector.
Speaking at a special dinner during the official visit Prime Minister Chastanet explained: “The relationship we are talking about is one of reciprocity. One in which, not only do we see Saint Lucia as the beneficiary of the generosity of the People of the Republic of China, Taiwan; but us recipricating by being of strategic assistance to Taiwan. One in which Taiwan can see Saint Lucia as an outpost to the Western Hemisphere.”
The prime minister was referring to Taiwan setting up businesses in Saint Lucia and using our workforce.
“With the technological advances of Taiwan and the hardworking people of Saint Lucia and our strategic location in this part of the world, I felt that we had much more that we can do together,” said the prime minister. “I have always believed that the true cementing of any relations on a bilateral basis would only be viable and sustainable if it was not just from Government to Government but it was inclusive of the private sector.”
Part of building this relationship started with the visit of local manufactuers recently to Taiwan to not just see for themselves what Taiwan has been producing ,but to form solid bonds.
The Prime Minister said that the aim is to also have Taiwan support Saint Lucia in the bold initiatives our country is taking.
“We in Saint Lucia are on a very long mission,” said the PM, adding that he would like to see the expansion of the agriculture industry into the area of agro-processing.
“Agro-processing is an area in which we have so much growth potential,” he said. “When I see the success Taiwan has made in manufacturing and its ability to generate new markets this is something I want to emulate in Saint Lucia. We will never see our full potential in agriculture if we are only going to be exporting fresh produce, because fresh produce is extremely limited and it’s very competitive. We need to combine the brand Saint Lucia as a premium destination in the world and translate that to our agriculture industry.”
The prime minister gave examples of local manufacturers who have been able to achieve this, for example Baron and Saint Lucia Distillers. The prime minister also says he wants to see Saint Lucia and Taiwan exchange even more on a cultural basis and has announced plans to send a Saint Lucian band to Taiwan’s music festival.
Meanwhile, the Government of Saint Lucia is expected to make major announcements in this year’s Budget about the deepening of our relationship with Taiwan.
For daily updates on Government’s progress visit: https://www.facebook.com/opmsaintlucia/