Somaliland opens representative office in Taipei

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (left) and Mohamed Hagi Mohamoud, Somaliland's representative to Taiwan. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Somaliland, a self-declared East African state, formally opened its representative office in Taiwan on Wednesday, signifying closer bilateral relations.

The unveiling ceremony of the office’s name plaque was held at the Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), with several members of the diplomatic corps in attendance.

“The bilateral accord between Somaliland and Taiwan is based on our common values of freedom and democracy,” Mohamed Hagi Mohamoud, Somaliland’s representative to Taiwan, said in his remarks.

“It is to initiate efforts to strengthen relations in areas of common interest that may promote bilateral trade and economic cooperation among equals such as education, health, agriculture, energy, mining and ICT,” he added.

Mohamoud invited Taiwanese businessmen to invest in Somaliland’s mining, eco-tourism, fishing, forestry and agriculture sectors.

Somaliland’s office is situated in a residential and commercial building in Zhongzheng District, Taipei. The office apparently decided to hold the opening ceremony elsewhere because of the limited space available.

Mohamoud told CNA in an earlier interview that the office will have five staff: himself, two from Somaliland and two locally-hired Taiwanese employees.

Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Taiwan’s Foreign Minister, pointed out the similar situation faced by Taiwan and Somaliland on the international stage.

“We both face external pressures, but are both proud of our sovereignty and ready to defend it,” he said. “Taiwan is ready to work closely with its like-minded partner in the Horn of Africa.”

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi delivered a congratulatory message through a pre-recorded video, saying it is now the best time for the two sides to strengthen relations as Somaliland is becoming a focal point of international interest with the shift in the global economy.

Taiwan and Somaliland signed an agreement in February this year to exchange representative offices and Taipei opened its office in Somaliland on Aug. 17.

Somaliland declared independence in 1991 after a civil war in Somalia. It has offices in about a dozen countries, according to its foreign ministry website, but is not recognized by any country as a sovereign nation.