WVN – (CNA) Focus Taiwan – Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) has approved a plan to give visa-free status to citizens of the Philippines, according to Minister without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森).
In response to enquires from CNA, Chang said Thursday in a text message that Lai has decided to grant visa-free privileges to Philippine nationals as part of government efforts to promote its New Southbound Policy.
While Chang said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will disclose the details about the visa-free plan later, anonymous sources said that the new measures are expected to take effect in October at the earliest.
To facilitate the New Southbound Policy, the government relaxed visa rules for individuals from 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India, effective from Aug. 1, 2016.
For Philippine nationals, Taiwan has allowed them to seek entry visas through an electronic application mechanism, starting Oct. 7, 2016.
In April, MOFA convened an inter-ministerial meeting to discuss the possibility of further relaxing visa rules for countries targeted by the New Southbound Policy including a visa-free status plan for the Philippines with an implementation on June 1.
However, the plan was postponed as MOFA cited the need to “complete relevant administrative procedures and inter-agency coordination.”
The New Southbound Policy aims to enhance Taiwan’s relations with countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016.
The government hopes that the policy will forge closer ties with these countries in a bid to reduce economic dependence on China.