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Taiwan is looking to boost trade with the European Union – and economists say given the bleak state of Europe’s economy, the EU also needs an agreement as it has not been fully exploiting the potential of the Taiwanese market.Improved relations between Taiwan and mainland China, which rejects the island’s independence, provide another incentive.“Taiwan is a small country, isolated diplomatically, without natural resources, but it has become one of the world leaders in information technology,” said euronews correspondent Margherita Sforza, who visited the birthplace of this Asian tiger in what is known as Taiwan’s own silicon valley. Founded in the 1980s, the Hsinchu Science Park is home to over 400 companies and research centres, specialists in producing electronic components for computers, and in nanotechnology. One firm which grew up there, TSMC, is a global leader in the semiconductor industry. It is estimated that Taiwanese IT companies help produce 80 percent of the world’s laptops, which are then assembled in neighbouring China. Close ties between the industry and universities are held up as a key to success. “In Taiwan although it’s a small country, we have a lot of industrial clusters, we can go through those clusters and get things done very quickly,” said Frank L. Chen, Director General of the Industrial Technology Research Institute.Taiwan is the EU’s 23rd largest trading partner. For the island, the European Union is the fourth most important, and its biggest foreign investor. The EU mainly imports electronic components and exports machinery and chemicals. Now Taipei is urging Brussels to sign a bilateral free trade agreement, as the EU did with South Korea, Taiwan’s biggest electronics competitor. One leading nanotechnology firm from Belgium, Imec, has opened an office in Taipei to strengthen ties with local industry and the scientific community.“As the risk in developing those next generation technologies became so high, associated to the cost also...