PRIME Minister Allen Chastanet has welcomed his successful visit to Taiwan, which has given a tremendous boost to Taiwan-St Lucia relations.
His five-member delegation, which also included Economic Development Minister Guy Joseph, was in Taiwan from the 7th to the 10th October 2018.
Along with President Abdo Benítez of Paraguay and Sir Tapley Seaton, the Governor General of St Kitts Nevis, the Saint Lucia Prime Minister was a special guest at the National Day Celebrations.
Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen paid special tribute to the Prime Minister at a full military parade and at the State banquet in his honour.
She expressed deep appreciation to Saint Lucia for speaking in support of Taiwan at the UN General Assembly and in other international gatherings.
In response, the Prime Minister underlined the growing friendship and the value of the development assistance that Taiwan has been providing.
He told her that he wished to explore new, creative and more effective approaches to supporting development.
In addition to the vital support for infrastructure, there needs to be more cooperation in trade and investment. He urged that the relationship be upgraded and modernised.
Both sides then committed to actions that will facilitate closer collaboration and a win-win economic relationship.
This call to pursue mutually beneficial economic opportunity was reiterated in the three separate meetings that the delegation had with business leaders. In these encounters, the attractiveness of Saint Lucia as a place for doing business was underlined.
The Prime Minister met with Mike Huang Chairman (International) of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, who will be leading a team of 13 companies from Taiwan, the USA and Canada, that will be exploring opportunities for investment, trade and joint ventures.
The Taiwanese business persons will be in Saint Lucia from the 24th to the 27th October 2018.
The delegation then visited the Ministry of Economic Affairs where the Prime Minister elaborated on the value of Taiwan’s contribution to St Lucia’s economic development and the new direction, including infrastructural support and enlisting private sector involvement via greater trade, investment and the transfer of technology.
Agriculture featured prominently on the programme.
The Prime Minister and Minister Joseph visited the Agriculture Council and thanked the Government for the valuable contribution that Taiwan has been making via various projects in the sector.
He outlined the extent of the devastation caused by Hurricane Kirk, which destroyed 90% of the banana crop and saw this experience as demonstrating the need to build resilience and protect agriculture from natural disasters.
Agriculture was recognised as an area in which Taiwanese assistance is very beneficial.
The delegation also visited the Agricultural Research and Extension Station, where they were impressed by the advances in agricultural research and product development as well as extension methods.
The Permanent Secretaries of Economic Development and of Finance, Mr. Philip Dalsou and Ms. Cointha Thomas, along with the Ambassador Edwin Laurent, met with the Deputy Secretary General of the International Corporation and Development Fund (ICDF), Dr.Pai Po Lee.
They reviewed various ongoing projects that the ICDF is funding, including the Banana Productivity Project and the scholarship programme, which is funding 25 St Lucian students.
A highlight of the visit was a reception at the St Lucia Embassy with Ambassadors and St Lucia nationals living in Taiwan. It was well attended and held on the same day that the delegation arrived.
At the end there was an open discussion with the students.
Minister Joseph urged them to maximize each opportunity to learn and become skillful in their respective fields.
The Minister shared his hope that when they return home they will be able to apply their training to bring about change that mirrors the excellence of the best that they have seen in Taiwan.
In a stirring speech, the Prime Minister outlined his vision for St Lucia and encouraged a trailblazing and professional approach.
He quoted the late J.F. Kennedy, urging the students to “Ask not, what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.
He stressed the need to aim for excellence and to develop the skills to compete, succeed and be the best, not just at the St Lucia level, but at a global level.
The visit was seen as successful and described by the Embassy as a relaunch and upgrading of the Taiwan St Lucia partnership, which is of considerable political and economic value to both countries.