Even before Rodrigo Duterte won the presidential elections in May, and way before he announced his bid for the highest office in the Philippines, Representative Gary Song-Huann Lin of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office had already considered possible and positive partnerships between the two nations under the former’s leadership.
Lin, whose position is equivalent to the Taiwanese ambassadorship, related this to The Manila Times in an interview at the launch of Taiwan Excellence campaign on June 2 at the Fairmont Makati Hotel.
According to Lin, he and his wife personally toured Duterte when he led a delegation to Taiwan in January. In their talks then, the TECO chief discovered aspects in which his country and Duterte could work on if the latter won.
“I believe one of his priority areas will be the transportation system,” Lin said recounting that Duterte personally took Taiwan’s two rail systems—the high-speed train, which goes to different cities, and the inter-Taipei MRT—showing great interest in their operations and efficiency.
The ambassador shared with Duterte more information on the use of clean and renewable energy in mass transport, especially since Taiwan has the known-how on this technology.
“We realized that in Manila there are many tricycles and Taiwan is very good at electric cars,” he noted.
Duterte also met with the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) during his visit to Taiwan. Lin narrated, “I was very impressed by the warm welcome of the OFWs in Taiwan. They welcomed him like a hero. I was quite amazed by his popularity.”
From this, the TECO chief saw first-hand Duterte’s concern for his fellowmen. He explained, “He was very happy and thankful to see that OFWs in Taiwan are well taken care of by the Taiwan government because of their contribution to the economy. We treat them as nationals with national health insurance. This is very rare [in other countries].”
“We have very fond memories together,” he said of his overall experience with the President-elect.
And apparently, even before that memorable trip, Lin had already met with Duterte several times whenever he would visit Davao.
“The mayor always take myself and my wife to dinners,” he added.
And as Duterte waits to assume office, Lin is all the more eager in exploring cooperation with the new administration. Other aspects he is eyeing include agri- and aquaculture, small to medium enterprises, and even fighting crime and illegal drugs, which is topmost of the incoming president’s priorities.
Strengthening trade relationships
Meanwhile, Taiwan via TECO also continues to strengthen its relationship with the Philippines particularly through trade.
Now running on its third year is the Taiwan Excellence campaign, which aims to create awareness on the best Taiwanese brands among Filipinos.
Through the campaign, Lin noted that more Filipinos come to know that Taiwanese products are not expensive and yet have very good quality.
“Very affordable and desirable,” he said of his country’s products on information and communications technology, household goods and appliances, and sports and leisure—all complementing and improving the Filipino lifestyle.
Taiwan Excellence 2016, which had its opening run from June 3 to 5 at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, presented over 100 products from 40 brands like Asus, Acer, Johnson and Kymco, among others.
Citing the Philippines economic growth, Lin is positive that trade in Taiwanese products will further grow.
“Given the fact that your economic fundamental is very good and very strong, your consumer market is also quite young. Your purchasing power can be one of the best among Asean countries,” he enthused.
Joining Lin at the official launch of the campaign were Deputy Executive Director Scott Yang of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), the organizer of the campaign, as well as representatives from local partner institutions Manila Economic and Cultural Office, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith also graced the event, serving as ambassador of the Taiwan Excellence campaign.
The next run of Taiwan Excellence shows are slated for July at SM Mall of Asia, in August at TriNoma, and in October at Market! Market!