The current unprecedented opportunities for business and technological cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S. was the theme of a Taiwan-U.S. Business Roundtable this morning co-organized by the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, Taiwan (CNAIC) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan. The event was held at the Palais de Chine Hotel.
In his opening remarks, CNAIC Chairman Por-Fong Lin recalled that a year ago this month the two sponsoring organizations issued a joint statement calling on the American and Taiwan governments to begin negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement (BTA). He noted that subsequent developments have improved the environment for taking that step and increased its importance.
Echoing that sentiment, AmCham Chairman CW Chin referred to the current situation as a “special moment in the relationship” between the two countries. The challenges presented by the COVID pandemic only brought them closer together, with Taiwan donating some 10 million surgical masks to the U.S. and the U.S. helping to provide Taiwan with much needed vaccines.
Another positive development – recent revival of the bilateral TIFA process for trade and investment negotiations after a five-year hiatus – was cited by Jen-Ni Yang, Deputy Trade Representative of Taiwan’s Office of Trade Negotiations. Bureau of Foreign Trade Director General Cynthia Kiang stressed the increasingly close cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S. in helping maintain strong and stable supply chains.
A keynote speech by Professor Philip Yang of National Taiwan University, a former Deputy Secretary General of Taiwan’s National Security Council, discussed other favorable trends, including signs that as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy the U.S. is paying greater attention to Taiwan’s strategic value. At the same time, he noted pressures arising from the growing U.S.-China economic competition, especially in the technology sphere.
In a roundtable discussion moderated by Regent Taipei Executive Chairman Steven Pan, business executives from both domestic and multinational companies contributed their expertise regarding the industries regarded as having the greatest potential for collaboration between U.S. and Taiwan companies – semiconductors and other ICT/5G-related products, medical technology and other healthcare items, electric vehicles (EV), and the energy and chemical sectors.
Pan summarized the panel’s key recommendations as follows:
- The Taiwan and U.S. governments should regularly coordinate regarding industrial policy and promote strategic public-private partnerships on critical supply chains for the ICT 5G, medical technology, and EV sectors.
- U.S. companies should leverage Taiwan’s sophisticated manufacturing platform to create a regional technology hub for Asia.
- Taiwan and the U.S. should take advantage of the Taiwanese talent pool in both Taiwan and the U.S. in support of a manufacturing renaissance.
The semiconductor field is considered particularly promising for U.S.-Taiwan cooperation because of the complementary nature of the industries on the two sides, said John Chen, Senior Director of the Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC) of the Institute for Information Industry. Taiwan is strong in the foundry and packing/testing segments, while the U.S. historically dominates the design and marketing functions.
A session moderated by Peter Huang, Secretary General of the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei, featured a special presentation by AmCham Taiwan President Andrew Wylegala introducing the concept of a Taiwan Commercial Initiative (TCI). The Initiative would seek to promote a series of concrete steps that hopefully would lead to a BTA.
A corollary initiative was set out by former AmCham Chairman and President Leo Seewald, who advocated conclusion of a bilateral tax agreement between Taiwan and the U.S. to increase certainty for business, boost investment, and reduce tax disputes.
Closing remarks by the two business organizations emphasized their commitment to continue working together to achieve the goal of upgrading bilateral economic relations through a BTA.