PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has expressed the need for further enrichment of Solomon Islands relationship with the Republic of China (Taiwan).
This was articulated when the Prime Minister received the Ambassador for the Republic of China Victor Te-sun Yu and Rear Admiral Yu-Pin Lin, Commander of the visiting Republic of China Navy Midshipmen Cruising Training Squadron for an audience yesterday.
The Prime Minister said the Solomon Islands Government was pleased to welcome Rear Admiral Yu-Pin Lin and his squadron on their good will visit to Solomon Islands.
Prime Minister Sogavare acknowledged the ROC Government for its input to Solomon Islands national budget over the years but reiterated there is a need to further enhance the relationship between Honiara and Taipei.
“I want to reiterate the importance of our relationship and the need to further enrich this relationship. This relationship has gone on for 32 years now and we need to do more to enrich it.”
The Prime Minister said Solomon Islands continues to be listed as a least developed country and is the second highest aid-dependent country and these dilemmas have much to do with the kind of policies the country has been advancing since its attainment of nationhood.
He said the Democratic Coalition for Change Government believes that the way forward from this situation is to attract more investors into the country through the introduction of a Special Economic Zones legislation.
“The direction of our policies is to attract investors into the country to invest in the fisheries, agriculture and tourism sectors.
“We have so much potential in these areas and want to capitalise on them to boost our economy.
“My government is now working on the legislation for the Special Economic Zones policy and it should be tabled in Parliament at the next sitting in July.”
The Prime Minister said a group of Chinese investors interested in investing in Solomon Islands tourism sector had visited the country and had an audience with him last week.
He said the group spoke of the importance of improving facilities at the Honiara International Airport to boost tourist arrivals and expressed its readiness to assist Solomon Islands on this front.
Ambassador Yu in turn thanked the Solomon Islands Government and people for making the visit of the ROC Navy Midshipmen Cruising Squadron a success.
“I am very pleased to inform you that everything went on smoothly for our naval squadron and on this note, I would like to register my sincere appreciation to the Solomon Islands government for this successful outcome.”
“During their three-day visit, officers of the squadron had very close interactions with the people of Solomon Islands through their provision of free medical service, opening of the naval vessel for a public visit and hosting of a free of charge spectacular show at the Lawson Tama Stadium, including a parade.
“Everything went smoothly for them and on this note, I wish to register my profound appreciation to the Solomon Islands Government and people for making the Taiwanese naval visit to Solomon Islands a success.”
Commenting on the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s policy direction to attract more foreign investors into Solomon Islands, Ambassador Yu said he fully understands what the Sogavare-led regime is driving at.
“We are fully aware of your expectations. We hope our friendship will continue and that we will work on both sides to advance it.
“I had already contacted several investors in Taiwan about the prospect of investing in Solomon Islands and be assured that I will do my job for the benefit of both countries.
“We are here to help Solomon Islands in its development endeavour and not to block its connections with the world. We will continue to share our resources with Solomon Islands.”
The ROC Ambassador said Taiwan was once on the receiving end of aid assistance like Solomon Islands but unlike Solomon Islands which is blessed with abundant natural resources, Taiwan had very limited natural resources and had to work very hard to lift itself out of poverty and reach its current economic status.
Taiwan is the 17th largest economy in the world, 14th largest exporter and 16th largest importer, and the third largest holder of foreign exchange reserves, with over US $180 billion.
Foreign investment was important to Taiwan during the 1960s, so it developed export processing zones with some enticements designed to bring in more foreign investors.
At the end of their discussions, Admiral Lin presented to the Prime Minister a set of drone photography equipment, a copy of Taiwan’s Defence and Foreign Affairs Policy, a set of Taiwanese teacups and a ‘Memory and Friendship Forever’ Taiwanese souvenir. – PM’s Press Secretariat