Virginia Governor Approves Trade Office in Taiwan

Taiwan Asia

Virginia becomes the latest state to unveil plans for a trade office in Taiwan, as the United States increases educational and economic exchanges on a national level.

Virginia’s first trade office in Taipei will soon open after Governor Glenn Youngkin met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on April 24, 2023.

President Tsai met with the governor to discuss “best practices for strengthening the business relationship between Virginia and Taiwan, including mutual trade and investment initiatives,” according to a statement by the governor’s office.

Virginia exported $730 million in goods to Taiwan in 2022 and imported $1 billion in goods, according to data compiled by the governor’s office. Taiwan is the fourth fastest-growing source of foreign direct investment in the United States.

The United States and Taiwan traded $106.2 billion in goods and services in 2020, according to data compiled in Taiwan Matters for America/America Matters for Taiwan. US exports amounted to $39.5 billion, up 4% from 2011, and imports from Taiwan were $66.7 billion, up 25% from 2018.

In February, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution in support of establishing a trade office. Both the House of Delegates and the Senate voted in favor of conducting a cost-benefit analysis relating to the proposal. The latter measure passed the General Assembly by a 99-0 vote.

“As a premier partner in the Commonwealth’s economic and business ecosystem, I was thrilled to meet with President Tsai to strengthen Virginia’s decades-old partnership with Taiwan,” said Governor Youngkin.

President Tsai expressed hope that Taiwan and Virginia will further diversify cooperation and continue to strengthen their joint efforts in education and academia. In 2022, Taiwan was invited to join the Teachers of Critical Language Program (TCLP), which recruits K-12 teachers in Taiwan to teach Mandarin in the United States.

“Taiwan has enjoyed sister-state relations with Virginia for 42 years,” President Tsai added. “That Governor Youngkin has chosen Taiwan as the destination for his first overseas trip since taking office is especially significant.”

The upcoming office in Taipei will be Virginia's fourth international trade office, joining others in Germany, South Korea, and Japan. Taipei also hosts trade offices from other states, including Hawaii, Montana, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

While speaking in Taipei, Governor Youngkin noted that Virginia's exports to Taiwan increased 27 percent over 2020, a more significant increase than that recorded in the rest of the United States.

Bi-khim Hsiao, Taiwan’s representative to the United States, welcomed the move to open a trade office, tweeting that it “will lay a stronger foundation for further cooperation.”

Meanwhile, the neighboring state of West Virginia celebrated the opening of its own trade office in Taiwan during a formal opening ceremony on April 27. The office began operations in September 2022.

West Virginia Lieutenant Governor Craig Blair named defense, aerospace, cars, chemicals, metals, and heavy industry as the priority sectors for deeper cooperation between his state and Taiwan.

Aaron McNicholas is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. He is a graduate student in the MA in Asian Studies program at Georgetown University, with a concentration in politics and security.