The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei held its 49th annual Hsieh Nien Fan banquet on March 22nd in the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Taipei.
Opening the evening were remarks by AmCham Taipei Chairman, Albert Chang, who expressed thanks on behalf of the Chamber to both the Taiwan government and AIT for helping to promote a positive business environment in Taiwan. He stressed the findings of AmCham Taipei’s recent 2017 Business Climate Survey that an already excellent business environment – especially with regard to quality of life and human capital – could easily be further improved through greater regulatory transparency and consistency.
A transcript of the chairman’s remarks is as follows:
Welcome, Good evening! President Tsai, Ministers, AIT Director Moy, AmCham Members, and Distinguished Guests. Let me say a warm welcome to AmCham Taipei’s annual Hsieh Nien Fan!
This is a historic evening. Every year, for the past 49 years, AmCham has gathered together the top leaders from government and international business. And tonight, we have set a new record of nearly 700 people here. To Director Moy and our fellow AIT leaders, we are so happy to have you with us tonight. This is a historic night, because tonight we welcome someone who herself has made history. Madam President, let me say, on behalf of AmCham Taipei, we are so honored to have you with us this evening. And so to you, your Ministers, and the 100-plus government officials here tonight, we offer a warm welcome and a heartfelt thank you.
As we gather here tonight, we have so much to celebrate.
The leaders in this room have personally overseen the creation of thousands-upon-thousands of high-quality high-paying jobs and billions of dollars of investment in Taiwan. Let’s not forget these are not numbers on a piece of paper. The companies in this room have done their part to improve the lives of the average Taiwanese citizen in very real ways.
When we asked our members in our most recent Business Climate Survey about their hiring and investment plans, they told us that they are doubling down here. Half of the companies in our Survey responded that they grew their headcount and investment in Taiwan in 2016. Half of the companies responded that Taiwan is a top 10 global priority for their company.
On quality of life, an overwhelming majority expressed enthusiasm for the quality of Taiwan’s workforce and the outstanding living environment. Some even joked that Taiwan is the only place in the world where the taxi drivers are nicer than the passengers! Even for me personally, when people tell me my Chinese has improved, I tell them I learn everything I know from our taxi drivers! But then when they say my accent is so bad, I guess I know who’s to blame.
On regulations, under Premier Lin Chuan’s leadership, the notice and comment period for new regulations has been extended from 14 days to 60 days, facilitating stronger input on proposed regulatory changes.
We thank President Tsai and the Taiwan government for creating an environment that welcomes the world’s leading companies to plant their flag in Taiwan and encourages them to invest, innovate, and grow here.
But, at the same time, we are not naïve, we all know that there is still much more work to do to unlock the next wave of growth in jobs and investment. If there is one message from our members on the state of the business environment in Taiwan, it is that we need to accelerate the pace of improvement.
And we need to do it in 3 key areas:
- Number 1: Government regulations – Regulations are the essential glue to a well-functioning, modern economy like Taiwan. But this is one area our members said Taiwan needs to step up. We’re looking for more transparency around the regulatory process; and we need more time and more opportunities to provide meaningful input into the process by which new laws are formulated and approved. This is the single biggest issue for international businesses here year after year.
- Number 2: Labor law –In today’s digital economy, where whole industries are being disrupted by fast-moving innovators, labor laws need to keep up. Labor laws in Taiwan need to become more relevant, they need to become more actionable, and they need to become more relevant to the day-to-day needs of companies trying to invest, innovate, and grow.
- And Number 3: Our members are looking for Taiwan to be a source of macro-economic stability in a world that is becoming more uncertain and more fraught with risks than ever before. Stability instills confidence throughout the entire system, and lets business leaders feel assured that their investments will be secure today, and in the future.
To my esteemed colleagues and friends in the room here, I would say this: you’ve all done so much to get Taiwan to the enviable position that it is in today: a thriving, vibrant democracy; a nation of smart, friendly, and hard-working people; and one of the largest trading nations on earth.
At AmCham, we are more optimistic than ever. We have here tonight the public and private sector leaders who will shape the economic future of Taiwan. And while we may not all share the same goals or agendas, what we do share, what does bind us together, is a deep commitment to continued economic growth and prosperity in Taiwan.
Personally, coming back to Taiwan several years ago was a deeply meaningful homecoming for me. I am personally committed to work with the esteemed leaders present in the room here tonight, to ensure that this home that we call Taiwan is a place where we can raise our families, build our businesses, and pursue our dreams in peace and prosperity.
Before I hand over the podium, I’d like to share with you an often-cited African proverb, my favorite proverb in fact, which states, “If you want to go fast, go alone…but if you want to go far, go together.” Tonight, we gather in recognition of the fact that, although there is so much work to do, there is no limit to what we can accomplish, if we do it together.
To President Tsai and Director Moy, we extend our warmest welcome and deepest thanks, and we look forward to years of continued partnership together. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming, Mr. Kin Moy, Director of the American Institute in Taiwan.