MANILA, Sept 8 (Mabuhay) — The Philippines and other Asian countries are not yet included in Taiwan’s latest list of countries eligible for visa-free entry.

Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesperson Joanne Ou on Wednesday said the Philippines was not technically removed, rather its inclusion in the scheme, which lapsed in July 2022, has just yet to resume.

“[W]e didn’t ‘suspend’ it, most of the Asian countries haven’t been ‘resumed’ just yet, but I am sure it will be in our next round of considerations. On 9/5 (September 5, 2022) we only resumed 54 countries from the original 66 countries of visa waivers,” she said.

“For the rest of Asian countries, it will be in our next round of considerations, so it was not ‘suspended’, but rather just not yet. And of course, we highly value the good relationship with the Philippines,” she added.

Starting September 12, only 54 countries, including Australia, the United States, and France are allowed visa-free entry to Taiwan.

Aside from the Philippines, the scheme has yet to resume for Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, Russia, Israel, Chile, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua in its visa-exempt entry scheme.

Likewise, Filipino vessel/aircraft crew members or service personnel intending to board to report for duty are “ineligible for the visa-free entry”.

Filipinos were first included in the scheme in a nine-month trial period from November 2017 to July 2018, allowing them to stay visa-free in Taiwan for at least 14 days.

The policy was extended and continued through July 31, 2020, until the pandemic came and borders were virtually closed. Taiwan resumed the policy for Manila from August 2021 to July 31, 2022.

In past statements, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office said Manila’s initial inclusion was a “display of Taiwan’s amity with the Philippines” and “to boost the travel convenience for Filipinos to visit Taiwan for leisure, business, or other short-term purposes.”  (MNS)