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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 31) – Taiwan is willing to open its labor market to Pacific Islanders after extensive bilateral negotiations with Pacific states.

The offer by the Asian nation comes a week after its unsuccessful attempt to join the South Pacific Tourism Organization.

Ironically, Taiwan’s nemesis, China, was admitted as a fully-fledged member.

Head of the Taiwan delegation to the 36th Pacific Islands Forum summit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs secretary-general Chen Yeong-cho, told reporters that Taiwan already had about 400,000 workers from South East Asian nations but there was space for more.

"Our labor market is open. We have foreign workers from Thailand, Vietnam (and) the Philippines working in Taiwan," Mr. Yeong-cho said. "We are actually in the process of taking Tuvaluans as seamen on our fishing ships - that possibility (for labor mobility from the Pacific) is there. Bilateral talks need to be held in order to make the proper arrangements."

He later revealed that Taiwan had already signed working holiday visa-scheme agreements with New Zealand and Australia, saying it enabled students to get jobs while studying in any of the three countries.

"It’s already started to function last year. Actually the applications (from interested students) have already been processed," he said.

The agreement between Taiwan and two of the Pacific’s developed states will irritate Pacific Islands Forum leaders, who banked their money recently on Australian Prime Minister John Howard and New Zealand colleague Helen Clark agreeing to give in to their push for seasonal jobs.

A Taiwan official who accompanied Mr. Yeong-cho said they had similar agreements with Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.

November 1, 2005

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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