Taipei, Taiwan's government is assessing the possibility of establishing a United States border preclearance system at its main airport to expedite travel by its citizens to the U.S., the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Friday.
The relevant government ministries are already examining the issue and discussing how such a system can be put in place at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, according to MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (???).
He said the discussions covered such details as setting up a preclearance system, the application process, and the management and benefits of such a system.
Taiwan will be closely following related developments in the U.S., he said, adding that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not yet opened up applications for countries interested in establishing a preclearance system.
His comments came in the wake of a front page report in the Liberty Times on Friday, which said the U.S. had conditionally agreed to the establishment of a border preclearance system in Taiwan.
The tentative agreement was reached in talks with China Airlines (CAL), one of Taiwan's leading carriers, on its new service between Taoyuan and Ontario, California, which will begin on March 25, the paper reported.
Speaking to reporters later Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Wu said Taiwan is looking forward to establishing the preclearance system, and would like to do it as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Sonia Urbon, spokeswoman of the American Institute in Taiwan, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, said the U.S. welcomed Taiwan's interest in the program.
Currently, the U.S. has 15 air preclearance locations in 6 countries and territories -- Ireland, Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada.
Taiwan is currently a member of the U.S. Visa Waiver and Global Entry program, which allows for more convenient and expedited entry into the U.S.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel