HC Deb 13 January 1998 vol 304 cc141-2
14. Mr. Stringer

What assessment his Department has made of the future level of inward investment from Taiwan. [20426]

18. Helen Jones

What assessment his Department has made of future levels of inward investment from Taiwan. [20430]

Mr. Fatchett

The United Kingdom has an unrivalled record in attracting inward investment from Taiwan, highlighted recently by significant investments by two major Taiwanese companies, Acer Peripherals and ADI. The promotion of the UK as the preferred location in Europe for Taiwanese investors will remain a priority for the Invest in Britain Bureau and the British Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei.

Mr. Stringer

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer and congratulate those organisations on the work that they are doing bringing investment into this country. I wonder whether they would share my opinion—which resulted from my experience when Teco Electric and Machinery Company first came to the Trafford Park estate in Greater Manchester—that the prime reason why Taiwanese companies locate in this country is for access to European markets. Does my hon. Friend agree that enormous damage is being done to that prospect by the comments of the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Foreign Secretary?

Mr. Fatchett

My hon. Friend is absolutely correct in what he says. The role of Britain as a central player in the European Union is important in attracting inward investment and creating new job and employment opportunities for the British people. Those opportunities would be placed at risk if the Conservative party's policy were put into effect. That is why so many knowledgeable and experienced members of the Conservative party now disagree openly with the Conservative leader and with the shadow Foreign Secretary.

Helen Jones

Is my hon. Friend aware that more than 10,000 students from Taiwan are currently paying their way through higher education in Britain? Does he agree that this can only serve to strengthen the links between the two countries and encourage further inward investment, and will he undertake to do all that he can to promote those developments?

Mr. Fatchett

We should always sell the importance of our higher education system. It has a great deal of merit; it is attractive to other countries. It is important to build the person-to-person contacts that the higher education system provides. That is true not only in Taiwan but throughout the world. I give an assurance to my hon. Friend that we will sell British higher and further education in Taiwan and throughout the world.

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