Taiwan enhances links with Hong Kong and Israel

24 May 2011

Taiwan has revealed plans to strengthen connections with Hong Kong and Israel, paving the way for closer economic and tourism ties with these destinations.

Taiwan and Hong Kong have agreed to sign a new civil aviation agreement, the first such deal between the two since Hong Kong’s handover in 1997. The pact will see the number of direct flights between the two Chinese destinations increase from the current 340 per week to a reported 410 per week. Final details of the new agreement will be revealed at the end of this month, according to a Taiwanese government official.

The direct links are expected to not only cut airfares but also position Hong Kong as an attractive tourist destination for Taiwanese visitors, posing strong competition to Mainland cities. This development comes shortly after Taiwan removed the fee for online visa procedures for visitors from Hong Kong and Macau (see story here).

Meanwhile, citizens of Taiwan will soon be able to enjoy visa-free status when entering Israel, as negotiations on the matter are in their final stages.

According to Simona Halperin, director of the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, negotiations regarding visa-free entry into Israel for Taiwanese passport holders should be finalised also by the end of this month. Eventually, Taiwan will reciprocate by offering Israeli citizens visa-free entry, stated Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Additionally, citizens of both countries can look forward to direct flights between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Israel’s Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport, when an air traffic agreement between the two airports is signed in the near future. 

These two developments, air links and easy visa procedures, will bolster trade between Taiwan and Israel. Bilateral trade amounted to US$1.2 billion last year, with room for more economic co-operation. 

Alisha Haridasani and Rachael Ho

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