Building Momentum for a Taiwan-U.S. BTA

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.

持續推動美台雙邊貿易協定

適逢臺美商業與科技領域合作前所未有的時機點,中華民國工商協進會與臺灣美國商會於臺北君品酒店舉辦「臺美企業圓桌論壇」,探討如何持續強化臺美間的經貿關係。

工商協進會林伯豐理事長於開幕致詞時說,想起去年此時,兩個單位發表共同聲明,呼籲美國和台灣政府開始就雙邊貿易協定(BTA)進行談判。他指出,發出聲明後,臺美關係朝著更好的方向發展,顯示聯合聲明的重要性。

呼應林理事長的談話,美國商會金奇偉會長表示,目前臺美關係正處在一個特殊的時刻。在COVID-19疫情中,臺灣多次捐助醫療口罩至美國,美國也提供疫苗支援,疫情反而促使兩國互動更為緊密。

行政院貿易談判辦公室副總談判代表楊珍妮表示,暫停五年的美國台灣貿易暨投資架構協定(TIFA)於日前重起談判,也代表臺美關係的一項正面發展。國貿局江文若局長強調,逐漸緊密的臺美合作關係,有助於維持供應練的穩定與韌性。

國家安全委員會前副秘書長、台灣大學教授楊永明在專題演講中提到,美國更加重視台灣在印太架構下的戰略價值,以及美中經濟競爭下,科技與技術領域帶給臺灣的壓力,等值得關注的雙邊關係正向發展趨勢。

由晶華酒店集團潘思亮董事長主持的圓桌討論中,來自國內和跨國公司的高階經理人交流,發表他們認為美臺合作下最有發展潛能領域的看法,像是半導體、資通訊、5G、醫療科技、電動車、能源與化學等產業。

潘思亮董事長總結會議的三大重點:

  • 台灣與美國政府應定期合作,針對資通訊、5G、醫療科技及電動車等關鍵產業,商討政策,並促進公私部門策略聯盟。
  • 美國企業應善用台灣成熟的製造產業,作為亞洲地區的科技中心。
  • 台灣與美國雙邊應善用台灣人才,以活化製造產業。

資訊工業策進會陳子昂資深總監表示,基於臺美雙邊產業的互補性,半導體為最有合作潛力的領域。臺灣擅長代工、包裝與測試,美國在設計與市場開發上則具有長期優勢。

臺北市進出口公會秘書長黃文榮在論壇中指出,希望以簽訂臺美雙邊貿易協定為目標,持續推動臺美企業交流與合作。美國商會執行長魏立安則在簡報中介紹商會於今年提出的臺灣商業計畫,希望跨大公私部門合作並透過具體步驟促成臺美雙邊貿易協定。

美國商會前會長李豪指出,洽簽臺美租稅協定將有助於建立更友善的商業環境,降低經營的不確定性、提升投資與減少稅務爭議。

工商協進會與美國商會在閉幕致詞時表示,未來雙方將持續合作,共同努力促成臺美雙邊貿易協定。