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The proposed new delegations fall into three categories - economic, political and aid related. Malaysia and Singapore will receive delegations because of the growing economic importance of south-east Asia. The Commission cites "strong political considerations" for opening a Saudi Arabian delegation, which would also be accredited to the five other Gulf Co-operation Council states. These countries produce a major proportion of the world's oil and are important Western allies in the war-torn Middle East. Finally, the new offices in Cambodia, Laos, Nepal and Paraguay are being put in place as part of the Commission's strategy of de-concentrating its aid distribution. All are important EU aid recipients, while Paraguay is also important as a member of the trade bloc Mercosur. The Commission expects these new offices to be relatively cheap to establish as officials who are already dealing with the four countries can be transferred from their present posts in Thailand, India and Uruguay. The opening of two other offices, in Taiwan and Cuba, is less certain and is still under consideration, according to the Commission. A representation on either island risks upsetting China and the United States, the great powers off whose coasts they respectively lie.The costs of the new delegations will be recouped by closing those in Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, the Comoros, Dutch Antilles, Sao Tome and Principe, Tonga and Equatorial Guinea. Delegations to Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Sri Lanka will be reduced to one official each while six further delegations will lose one member each. According to the Communication, the Commission believes that no further cuts can at present be made, without harming the effectiveness of the external service. Despite this, further changes in the future are foreseen. After EU enlargement, delegations in accession countries will be transformed into representation offices and ex-Soviet republics will become near neighbours, warranting greater...

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