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Taiwan, Philippines step up parliamentary ties
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Taipei, April 18 (CNA) Relations between Taiwan and the Philippines have moved up a notch as lawmakers from both sides formed a parliamentary association on Tuesday with the aim of boosting bilateral exchanges in various fields.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wu Kuen-yuh (吳焜裕), who was elected chairman of the Taiwan-Philippines Congressional Association, said he hopes the association can push for more cooperation in trade, investment, agriculture and medicine.

Legislative Secretary-General Lin Chih-chia (林志嘉) also said during the inauguration ceremony that the association could play a key role in Taiwan-Philippine ties because the two countries do not have enough exchanges due to language barriers.

The Southeast Asian country is important as it has a population of more than 100 million, Lin said, adding that Taiwan and the Philippines should cooperate more closely under the government's New Southbound Policy.

The policy, introduced by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), seeks to promote ties with the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations along with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Australia and New Zealand.

Winston Chen (陳文儀), director-general of the Foreign Ministry's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, added that under the New Southbound Policy, the number of Filipino visitors to Taiwan grew by 35,000, or 24 percent, from 2015 to 2016.

With upcoming visa privileges for visitors from the Philippines, it is expected that Philippine arrivals will double this year, he said.

Carlo L. Aquino, deputy representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei (MECO), said the association could provide a formal channel for lawmakers from both sides to interact more often.

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