Smooth Flying for the Global Economy

Even if a flight is smooth, airlines generally recommend keeping your seatbelt fastened in case of any unexpected turbulence. The life jacket beneath the seat is strictly in case of dire emergency.

So it goes for investing in today’s global economy, said Tai Hui, managing director and chief market strategist Asia for J.P. Morgan Funds in his recent presentation to AmCham members at a presentation entitled 2018 Global Economic Outlook: End of the Road or More Room to Run?

From left to right: Speaker Tai Hui, Asia Chief Market Strategist, Asia, J.P. Morgan Asset Management; AmCham’s Governor & Asset Management Committee Co-Chair Christine Jih, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, BNP Paribas Investment Partners Taiwan Co., Ltd.; Eddy Wong, Managing Director, Head of JPMorgan Asset Management Taiwan

“You don’t know when the flight will get bumpy, and the investment world is very similar,” Hui said at AmCham’s Asset Management & Capital Markets Joint Committee luncheon on March 27 at the Grand Hyatt. “We have to put our seatbelts on – we cannot be complacent. You wear a seatbelt by having a diversified portfolio” that spreads out risks of sudden downturns.

The global economy is maintaining its growth momentum, with synchronized growth expected around the world following from 2017’s strong performance. Extending his flight analogy, Hui said that markets were climbing in 2017, but now they’ve reached cruising altitude. “It’s not the time to worry about wearing a life jacket,” he reassured investors worried about the recent trade spat between the United States and China or about U.S. President Trump’s imposition of tariffs on a number of imports, including steel.

The factors that lead him to remain bullish on investments in 2018 are inflation figures that remain at or below targets in markets around the world, even in the United States, despite the economy operating at nearly full capacity. Wage growth remains sluggish in the United States, where union activity is at an all-time low and the rising “gig economy” of Uber drivers, etc., has crimped wage hikes. But nearly full employment will nevertheless lead to creeping inflation, and Hui anticipates the U.S. Federal Reserve raising interest rates to tighten up the money supply and keep inflation within bounds. Although rising interest rates are often a cause for concern for investors, Hui noted that “when the Fed raises rates, it’s a vote of confidence in the economy.”

For the same reason that tighter money supply points to a stronger business climate, he also parted with conventional wisdom that equities take a hit during money tightening. And while equities in the United States are not cheap, he told audience members that equities on Asian markets are earning 30% more per share than their American counterparts, an attractive bargain. Still the 20% boost to revenues that U.S. companies are currently enjoying thanks the to the Trump tax plan likewise makes them viable targets, and investors now have a wealth of choices.

Even fixed-income products such as bonds are doing well, he noted.

Key concerns are the risk of protectionism or even a trade war between the United States and China, but Hui said that recent negotiations between the two economic behemoths should reassure investors that they will likely work things out. A trade war would contribute to inflation on both sides of the Pacific to potentially disastrous results.

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Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

A Collaborative Approach to Food Safety

Two experts note how improved indusry-regulator communications helped in the U.S.

Food safety issues have continued to plague Taiwan, despite comprehensive efforts by the regulatory agencies following the waste-oil scandals of 2014 to upgrade and enhance food safety surveillance. At the same time, the food industry complains that many of the regulations and practices put into place to ensure that Taiwan’s food is safe and free of both contamination and fraudulent ingredients are unreasonable and ineffectual, entail great costs for food producers and sellers, and offer minimal benefits to consumers.

Relations between industry and regulators, including the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration, the Council of Agriculture, and the Customs Administration, continue to be testy, with little collaboration or cooperation.

There’s got to be a better way.

On March 12, AmCham Taipei’s Retail Committee, in association with Costco Wholesale Corp. Taiwan, invited visiting U.S. experts to describe a more cooperative approach to food safety at a forum entitled “Effective Advocacy on Food Safety.”  Michael Taylor, a former deputy commissioner of Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Craig Wilson, vice president of Quality Assurance and Food Safety for Costco Wholesale Corp., discussed how industry, government, and consumer groups in the United States collaborated on creating the comprehensive legal and regulatory framework, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

From left to right: AmCham Taipei President William Foreman; Speaker Michael Taylor, Former Deputy Commissioner at Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Craig Wilson, Vice President, General Merchandising Manager of Quality Assurance / Food Safety, Non-Foods Quality Assurance, Environmental Services /Haz Mat and Merchandise Services, Costco Wholesale Corporation

“We saw tremendous alignment of government, industry, and consumers along the goal of making the food supply as safe as we could, and put in place modern standards,” said Taylor, who oversaw the entire process. The FSMA was signed into law by President Obama in 2011 and its implementation continues today.

But getting to that point wasn’t easy, Taylor recounted. He said that an outbreak of E.coli contamination in a popular fast food restaurant chain in the early 1990s, which killed four children and permanently injured more than 500 others, forced the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the beef industry to acknowledge “that you cannot fight the goal of food safety,” said Taylor.

“It triggered a mindset shift,” he explained. While previously industry and government had operated on the assumption that contamination was an inevitable reality and that consumers were responsible for ensuring the adequate preparation of their own food, “it is now widely accepted that its industry’s responsibility to do everything it can to make the food safe for consumers.”

Further outbreaks in the mid-2000s involving leafy green vegetables and other foods also triggered efforts by regulators and industry to collaborate on improving food safety monitoring. An outbreak of salmonella in a wide range of peanut products that killed nine people and severely sickened thousands, however, was the final straw. The food industry actually approached Congress to say: “We need our industry better regulated.”

The result was the FSMA. Signing the law, however, was just the beginning of the process, as the legal concepts needed to be converted into concrete regulations. Once again, “enormous collaboration between industry and government was required to get these regulations right,” said Taylor. “Now we are working to achieve comprehensive compliance.”

Could such an approach work in Taiwan? Neither presenter was willing to state that the model would definitely be applicable to Taiwan’s specific culture or food market. Yet perhaps more open communication between the authorities and the private sector could enable Taiwan to make faster progress in enhancing food safety.

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Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

AmCham Taipei Banquet Provides Forum for State Dept. Official’s Remarks

Speaking at AmCham Taipei’s 50th annual Hsieh Nien Fan banquet at the Grand Hyatt on March 21, Alex Wong, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, staunchly reaffirmed American government support for Taiwan.

Stating that “the United States has been, is, and always will be Taiwan’s closest friend and partner,” Wong said “the aim of U.S. policy is to ensure that Taiwan’s people can continue along their chosen path, free from coercion.” He told the audience of 700 AmCham members and guests, including President Tsai Ing-wen and more than 100 other Taiwan government officials, that American commitment to the goals of strengthening ties with the Taiwan people and bolstering Taiwan’s ability to defend its democracy “has never been stronger.”

The State Department official also referred to Taiwan’s constitutional democracy as an example for the entire Indo-Pacific region, adding that Taiwan should no longer be “excluded unjustly” from international forums.

“The U.S. commitment to Taiwan doesn’t change from administration to administration or from president to president,” Wong said. “It doesn’t change with the rise or fall of the fortunes of other powers in the region. It doesn’t change with the emergence of new challenges or new threats.”

Wong’s remarks were widely covered by the Taiwanese and international media, including The New York Times.  The full text is posted on the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) website.

In introducing the Deputy Assistant Secretary, AIT Director Kin Moy cited several positive recent developments in Taiwan on issues that AmCham Taipei had advocated – Taiwan’s enhancement of transparency by adopting a 60-day notice and comment period for new laws and regulations, and its bolstering of intellectual property rights by preparing to establish a patent linkage system for pharmaceuticals.

Earlier in the evening, President Tsai continued the tradition of the Taiwan president addressing the Chamber’s annual signature event. She hailed the “positive direction Taiwan-U.S. relations have taken over the past few years,” including President Trump’s signing of the Taiwan Travel Act into law, encouraging more visits back and forth by government officials.

She also praised AmCham Taipei’s work in advancing bilateral relations and improving the investment environment in Taiwan through its Doorknock delegations to Washington, publication of the Taiwan White Paper  and Taiwan Business TOPICS magazine, and conducting its annual Business Climate Surveys.

The evening’s program began with remarks from 2018 AmCham Chairman Albert Chang, a former classmate of Alex Wong’s at Harvard Law School. Chang, the managing partner in Taiwan for McKinsey & Co., noted that favorable results of AmCham Taipei’s recent Business Climate Survey and praised the accomplishments of Taiwan’s past 50 years of economic development. But he also cited the survey’s findings that “60% of our member companies believe we need more policymaker engagement with the private sector in setting regulations” and that “90% believe that in an innovation-based economy, professional and managerial talent should be exempted from the labor law” provisions on working hours.

View the full photo gallery here.

High-level dignitaries in attendance this year included:

  • National Policy Advisor to the President of the President’s Office Mei-Yueh Ho
  • Secretary General of Legislative Yuan Jih-Jia Lin
  • Minister of National Development Council Mei-Ling Chen
  • Secretary-General of National Security Council David Tawei Lee
  • Chairman of Financial Supervisory Commission Wellington L. Koo
  • Minister of Ministry of Transportation and Communications Tan Ho-Chen
  • Minister of Ministry of Science and Technology Liang-Gee Chen
  • Minister of Ministry of Health and Welfare Shih-Chung Chen
  • Minister of Environmental Protection Administration Ying-Yuan Lee
  • Chairperson of National Communications Commission Nicole,T.I. Chan

The evening was made possible by the following sponsors:

  • Platinum Sponsor: Citibank
  • Gold Sponsors: Corning Display Technologies; Franklin Templeton Securities; Standard Chartered Bank
  • Silver Sponsors: 3M Taiwan, HSBC Bank, JT Tobacco International, and Micron Tech Asia Pacific Taiwan
  • Bronze Sponsors: Air Products, AllianceBernstein Investments, Baker & McKenzie, Dun & Bradstreet, K&L Gates, Philip Morris, Qualcomm, Versum Materials
  • General Sponsors: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Grand Hyatt Taipei, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, McKinsey & Company, P & G, SEMI Taiwan, The Tobacco Institute of the ROC
  • Wine & Liquor: Sergio Valente and Diageo

Commerce Department Officials Call at AmCham

Ian Paul Steff, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing in U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, exchanged views with AmCham Taipei representatives during an hour-long meeting in the Chamber’s Lincoln Room on March 22 as part of his six-day visit to Taiwan. Steff was joined by two colleagues: International Trade Specialist Kyle Johnson and Devin A. Horne, Civil Nuclear Trade Specialist.

The AmCham attendees included President William Foreman, Standing Vice Chairman Leo Seewald, Vice Chairman Vincent Shih, Governor Edward Shober, President Wayne Chin and Vice President Richard T.C. Chen of Pacific Engineers & Constructors, Senior Director Don Shapiro, and Senior Director for Government and Public Affairs Amy Chang. Ireas Cook, chief of the Commercial Section at the American Institute in Taiwan, and Mark Lewis, the deputy chief, also attended.

Steff said the U.S. government sees many economic opportunities in Taiwan because of the numerous mutual interests, including such sectors as biotech, energy, and the Internet of Things.

Chairman Albert Chang remarks at AmCham’s 50th Annual Hsieh Nien Fan

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei held its 50th annual Hsieh Nien Fan banquet on March 21st in the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Taipei.

AmCham Taipei Chairman Albert Chang opened the evening by expressing thanks to Taiwan government officials, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and other friends of the Chamber for their shared support in strengthening the US-Taiwan partnership.

A transcript of the chairman’s remarks is as follows:

Good evening! Madam President, AIT Director Moy, Deputy Assistant Secretary Wong, and Distinguished Guests, welcome to AmCham Taipei’s 50th Annual Hsieh Nien Fan.

This is a historic night. We have over seven hundred people here tonight – this is more than we have ever had in half a century of history! We are also joined tonight by Alex Wong. Alex is a dear friend.  We met ten years ago when we were together at Harvard Law School, and he is one of the smartest people that I have ever met.  And so when I called him several months ago inviting him to Taiwan, I was really happy that he accepted, because I am so happy to see my old friend again.  Then when I woke up this morning, I saw a hundred articles about his visit here and the Taiwan Travel Act, these Rockstar pictures. You know Alex, please don’t go getting a big head now, the timing is just a coincidence.

But to be sure, Alex is also the most senior State Department official covering Asia that we have ever had joining our Hsieh Nien Fan in fifty years. Isn’t that amazing? But, to be honest Alex, with all the personnel changes on Twitter these days, we weren’t sure if you would actually make it.

We also want to welcome AIT Director Moy. Kin Moy is also someone that has become a true friend of AmCham.  His genuine passion for Taiwan and his sincere outreach to the community have left a legacy that will be remembered for a long time.

You know my friend, I had all these jokes I wanted to tell about you, but as our AmCham team learned from your speech last year, and as they keep reminding me, “Albert, don’t even try, because Kin Moy is just much funnier than you are.”

We also want to welcome the one hundred government officials here tonight. We are honored to have President Tsai Ing-wen, with us as our keynote speaker – thank you for joining us Madam President. We also welcome almost every Minister and senior official from all branches of government.

Last year, we all had a great dinner together…and then a few months later I ruined your day with news that none of the eighty issues in our White Paper had been solved…

But don’t worry, you can enjoy your dinner this evening, because, after a year of work, out of the eighty issues raised, we have now solved……five.

If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is…

It’s OK everyone, we still have a few more months to go. Jia You!

In all seriousness, there is a lot to celebrate. Fifty years ago, per capita GDP was less than US$400, today it is over US$22,000.  Exports were about to exceed US$1 billion dollars a year for the first time ever.  Today, Taiwan exports that much in one day.

Taiwan’s economic story has been a miracle. And it is only because of that miracle that today, our Business Climate Survey shows that over 80% of our member companies say they are confident that their revenues will grow here over the next three years.  Over half say they plan to increase their employment this year.

Citibank’s main site in Taipei is among its busiest in the world; Corning and Micron both maintain their largest international operations in Taiwan. For McKinsey, Microsoft, Google, Cigna, and many others – Taiwan is one of their central hubs in Asia.  Costco’s Taichung store is the company’s global leader in customers and sales – I hear when everyone in Taiwan was rushing to buy toilet paper, Costco was the only place that had any left!  That’s amazing!

But, despite the accomplishments over the last fifty years…we all share this underlying sense…this nagging feeling…almost among all of us…that Taiwan could be so much more. We all imagine a Taiwan in ten years that looks different…where starting salaries are on the rise rather than at the same level as they were three decades ago…where talent flows inward from all corners of the world rather than only outward…where Taiwan is the place for foreign investment, home to ten times more international companies, thought of in the same way as a Hong Kong or a Singapore – as the place in Asia to invest and the place from which to do business in Asia.

But we know that image we have for a future Taiwan is not what Taiwan looks like today. Because the truth is, if Taiwan wants to be at the center of gravity of a 21st century economy, then it needs a 21st century labor and regulatory system. And here, there is more work to do, in 3 areas.

First, on regulations, 60% of our member companies believe we need more policymaker engagement with the private sector in setting regulations. Second, on labor, 90% believe that in an innovation-based economy, professional and managerial talent should be exempted from the labor law. And third, on the White Paper, there is wide consensus that if we just met global standards, putting us on par with Japan or similar developed economies, then we’d solve most of our 80 issues.

What this tells us is that we need deeper partnership between the public and private sectors. And we need to see labor and regulatory breakthroughs that will spur 10x more investment here. In the spirit of that deeper partnership, we are excited to announce that AmCham has proposed to the Administration that we jointly create an Industry Summit Council. This Council’s aim will be to attract more investment to Taiwan under the pillars of 5+2, and to facilitate the breakthroughs in regulatory improvements to make that possible.  We are excited to roll out the details shortly.

I believe we are all here tonight for some reason. Almost 50 years ago, my parents left Taiwan for the US as young students. My dad was a top student here, and when he first arrived to the US, he almost lost his scholarship because he struggled with his English. Fifty years later, as one of four children, I came back here. And I came back because I believe that there is something special about this place. Because I believe Taiwan’s economic miracle is not over.

And I think if we look around this room, that’s a belief we all share. This idea that Taiwan has not yet reached its full potential.  But that it is within reach.  And if we are going to have any chance to get there, we will have to do it together. That is our shared belief, and that is what binds all of us in this room tonight.

To President Tsai, Director Moy, and DAS Wong, let me extend our warmest welcome to you, and invite you to join us in this vision of deeper partnership together. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming, Her Excellency, President Tsai Ing-wen.

The Subtle Arts of Persuasion and Negotiation

Whatever your position, the ability to communicate, connect, and influence others to achieve your desired outcomes is essential to being successful.

Nick Coburn-Palo, a member of the Taipei American School faculty and Consulting Trainer at UNITAR, held a workshop at the Chamber’s Lincoln Room, entitled “The Subtle Arts of Persuasion and Negotiation” on March 8. The program was aimed at helping individuals develop core skills necessary to persuade and negotiate across a wide variety of potentially contentious situations.

During the session, Coburn-Palo shared with AmCham members and guests the techniques leaders use, in speaking and writing, to influence and persuade others for win-win outcomes. Through different case studies from the worlds of politics, business, and family life, he gave participants a chance to understand human behaviors, how people process information, and when and why negotiations may breakdown.

The session concluded with three key takeaways:

  • Embrace soft variables:  pay attention to personality traits, characteristics, physical space, and time
  • Maintain flexibility: the desired outcome may not be the most advantageous; win-win outcomes sometimes mean getting 50%
  • Remember your audience: negotiations and debates have different audiences – make sure the approach taken is based the audience and context.

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Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

Chairman Albert Chang on BloombergTV’s Daybreak Asia show

American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei Chairman Albert Chang, Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company Taiwan Office, spoke with BloombergTV Daybreak Asia immediately prior to the public release of AmCham’s Business Climate Survey (BCS). The BCS was released at a news conference on March 12 held at AmCham Taipei’s Lincoln Room.

The chairman spoke on a wide variety of subjects, tying issues raised in the BCS to global trade and U.S. policy, including tax reform and import tariffs. Emphasizing the integral role that Taiwan and multinational firms operating here play in global supply chains, Chang highlighted the importance of clear and consistent U.S. policy and openness to global trade to their operations.

Live interview on BloombergTV’s Daybreak Asia show, courtesy of Bloomberg.

2018 AmCham Taipei Business Climate Survey

Most member companies of the Chamber are optimistic about Taiwan’s economy and their own profitability over the next three years, but business leaders have serious concerns about energy, the labor law and the way regulations are made. Those were the major findings of the 2018 Business Climate Survey, conducted for AmCham by PwC Taiwan. The results were released at a news conference, followed by a membership luncheon, on March 7.

Download the full Business Climate Survey report, click here.

The survey showed that AmCham companies have deep roots in Taiwan, with two-thirds of the respondents working for firms that have been operating here for more than two decades, said Albert Chang, chairman of AmCham.

Live video of the news conference:

Some of the key positive responses from AmCham member companies included:

  • 55% are confident about Taiwan’s economic outlook this year, and 50% are confident about the three-year outlook.
  • 81% expressed optimism about revenue growth this year, and 79% were optimistic about the three-year outlook.
  • Nearly 40% intended to increase their employee headcount this year.

2018 Business Climate Survey – top executives’ views on the growth of the #Taiwan #economy and their own companies.

A majority regard the “5+2 Innovative Industries” and “Forward-looking Infrastructure” plans as likely to benefit Taiwan’s economic development. Nearly half of respondents view the initiatives as “likely to impact” their companies’ decisions on future business expansion in Taiwan.

Some key areas of concern included:

  • Nearly 50% said the labor law isn’t flexible enough.
  • 84% were concerned about the future sufficiency of the power supply.
  • 58% were dissatisfied with the degree of policymakers’ attention to business needs.

2018 Business Climate Survey – an in-depth look at the level of concern for Taiwan’s power supply and energy-related issues.

Respondents were also critical of the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They were concerned Washington’s foreign policy and trade-related initiatives are putting American companies at a competitive disadvantage in the Asia-Pacific.

The results of the online survey, which had a 51.3% response rate, were based on responses from 198 members polled this year between Jan. 10 and Feb. 23.

Download the full Business Climate Survey report, click here.

AmCham Delegation Calls on Premier Lai  

AmCham Taipei representatives led by Chairman Albert Chang met with Premier William Lai on March 1 to brief him on the results of AmCham Taipei’s 2018 Business Climate Survey in advance of the public announcement on March 7. The Premier was accompanied by National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling and other officials from the Executive Yuan.

In addition, the Chamber thanked the government for recent progress in dealing with issues from AmCham’s Taiwan White Paper, particularly the preparation currently underway for implementing a Patent Linkage system for pharmaceuticals.

Chang also expressed AmCham’s desire to work in close partnership with the government in the months ahead to encourage increased foreign investment in Taiwan to help spur economic growth and job creation – for example by holding a series of forums to be attended by high-level executives from the Chamber’s member committees. The Premier replied that the government would strongly welcome that initiative.

The AmCham delegation consisted of:

  • AmCham Taipei Chairman Albert Chang, Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company Taiwan
  • William Foreman, AmCham Taipei President.
  • Leo Seewald, AmCham Taipei Vice Chairman, Chairman / Managing Director, BlackRock Investment Management (Taiwan) Limited
  • Vincent Shih, AmCham Taipei Vice Chairman, IP & Licensing & Government Relations Committee Co-Chair, General Manager, Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs of Microsoft Taiwan
  • Fupei Wang, AmCham Taipei Secretary, CSR Committee Co-chairs, Managing Director, Ogilvy Public Relations
  • Don Shapiro, AmCham Taipei Senior Director and Editor-in-Chief, Taiwan Business TOPICS
  • Amy Chang, AmCham Taipei Senior Director of Government and Public Affairs

Labor Inspection Enforcement Seminar

The latest amendments to the Labor Standards Act went into effect on March 1, 2018. This regulation has sparked a great deal of controversy and uncertainty. In order to protect the interests of both companies and employees, corporate HR departments need to be equipped with a full knowledge of the new labor rules and how they will be implemented.

To help provide that information, on February 26 AmCham Taipei’s Human Resources Committee invited Chiang Ming-chih, director of the Taipei City Labor Inspection Office, and Hu Hua-tai, director of the New Taipei City Labor Standards Inspection Office, to explain how the labor inspection system will be carried out and to take questions from the audience. Over one hundred Chamber members and guests gathered at The Sherwood Taipei for this event.

The two directors specified that organizations with the following conditions will be placed at the top of the list for inspection:

  • Having been previously reported for violation of labor laws
  • Using a shift system
  • Having non-standard working hours
  • Hiring hourly-rate or part-time workers

During the panel discussion, the majority of the questions focused on practical issues that arose from past experiences, ranging from the calculation of working hours to wage payment deadlines.

Chiang and Hu strongly urged HR managers to establish an effective internal communication channel and to reinforce employee management as the key to resolution of workplace disputes.

From left to right: AmCham HR Committee Co-chair Seraphim Ma, Senior Partner, Baker & McKenzie; Hu Hua-Tai, director of the New Taipei City Labor Standards Inspection Office; Chiang Ming-chih, director of the Taipei City Labor Inspection Office; AmCham HR Committee Co-chair Vicky Chen, Head of Human Resources, Standard Chartered Bank (Taiwan) Ltd.; and AmCham Taipei President William Foreman.

Interested in attending our events? Join us at other upcoming events, click here.

Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.