Taipei-Taiwan trade official Walter Yeh (???) expressed his regret Monday over the Iraqi government's recent move to expel a visiting Taiwanese business delegation from the country.
The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) was abruptly notified that the delegation's visas had been canceled a few days after its members had arrived in the country, said Yeh, TAITRA's president and chief executive.
The Taiwan Investment and Trade Mission to the Middle East organized by TAITRA was supposed to be a 12-day trip aimed at promoting business between Taiwan, Iraq and Bahrain.
According to TAITRA, the delegation was scheduled to visit Baghdad from Sept. 13 to 16, then head to Erbil from Sept. 17 to 19, and finish the tour in Manama, Bahrain from Sept. 20 to 24.
The Iraqi government did not give any explanation as to why their visas had been canceled, except to say that they were barred from staying in Iraq and had to leave the country by noon the following day, Yeh said.
It was the second time a trade mission to Iraq had been organized by the trade group, Yeh said, and this year's group consisted of over 50 people.
William Wu (???), director of Sense-tech Innovation Company who was on the tour, said there were 52 Taiwanese business persons in all.
In a post on his Facebook page dated Sept. 16, Wu said the delegation was notified the previous day that visas for delegation members had been canceled, and that they could no longer stay in Iraq and were to be escorted out within the next 24 hours.
Word from the local travel agency who helped them get the visas was that China had exerted pressure on the Iraqi government to not allow Taiwan to do business in the country, Wu said in his Facebook post.
He also noted, however, that the travel agency obtained visitor visas for them instead of business visas, which meant there was little delegation members could do if they wanted to fight over the issue.
But TAITRA said Monday that the issue had nothing to do with the visa type.
The trade council will compensate the group members for their losses, it said, adding that the most important thing was that group members got back home safely.
According to TAITRA, some group members chose to continue their trade tour in Bahrain after leaving Iraq.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel