Taipei, Taiwan, March 30, 2022
President Tsai, AIT Director Oudkirk, Distinguished Guests, and Chamber Members, good evening and welcome to AmCham’s annual Hsieh Nien Fan. This is my first banquet as Chairperson, but, remarkably, the 54th for the Chamber!
I’m very pleased to see such an impressive number of senior officials, including from three municipalities, as our special guests for this special evening. Thanks to the cooperative spirit of all in this room, and the stellar public health management by Taiwan’s authorities, we can gather in force to celebrate another year of improving Taiwan’s business environment.
Tonight, our Chamber caps a year-long journey to re-register and re-brand the venerable “AmCham Taipei” under the proud name, “AmCham Taiwan,” by unveiling a new logo that captures our larger identity – and still larger ambitions. Reflecting our commitment to supporting next-generation talent, we selected a design by graduate student John Zheng from National Taiwan University – which also happens to be my alma mater. We are excited to begin using this new logo, and to fulfilling the promise it embodies by expanding our programming all over Taiwan, radiating out beyond our traditional base here in the North.
I am also pleased that tonight, AmCham, in collaboration with America’s prestigious East-West Center, is sharing a pre-publication glimpse of a physically compact but informationally rich publication, Taiwan Matters for America/America Matters for Taiwan, which depicts with data and graphics the economic, security, and people-to-people ties between Taiwan and the United States. With the Center and key stakeholders across Congressional and Executive branches we are working on the booklet’s formal launch and follow-on feature articles. During this unique time, when no one country can be excused from the current challenges, it’s even more meaningful to highlight that we stand with freedom, stand with democracy, and stand with the U.S.-Taiwan partnership!
There is much to celebrate in Taiwan these days. Its effective and humane handling of the pandemic has fueled both strong economic growth and positive international recognition. Yet our grounds for celebration extend beyond a healthy environment for daily life. Taiwan has proven itself to be an exemplar – not just regionally but globally – of democratic values, human rights, and a dynamic market economy. I believe you will all agree with me that this is an exciting time to be living and doing business in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s success is fully appreciated by AmCham’s members, as our January 2022 Business Climate Survey documented. A remarkable 87% of respondents expressed optimism about Taiwan’s economy in 2022, while an even higher 90% were very or somewhat confident in their company’s revenue growth.
Our member firms are responsible for a large share of the billions of dollars of inbound investment and innovation over the past few years. Indeed, Taiwan’s impressive growth has been driven by increased investments, supported by government policies to attract foreign direct investment and that of Taiwanese firms returning from overseas. This trend will continue only with the government’s support for a faster and more transparent review process for M&A and assurance of a free two-way flow of all types of capital investment.
To be sure, several areas of preoccupation were also identified in the BCS, especially concerning Taiwan’s energy environment. Manufacturers worry that Taiwan’s grid resilience and relatively thin supply margins may not ensure a steady power supply. Energy forms a key pillar among the overarching government resilience concept, which has been highlighted around the world during these challenging times. With the contributions by our members in the technology, energy, infrastructure, and investment sectors, AmCham Taiwan can further strengthen our partnership with the Taiwan government to address energy, sustainability, digital transformation, supply chain, cybersecurity and other resilience challenges.
In addition, our Chamber strongly feels that for Taiwan to continue to prosper, executive-level commitment to normalizing consular processes for business, academic, and other two-way travel is imperative. We were pleased to learn of the expansion of business visas for Taiwan travel earlier this month, an excellent initial step. A commitment to resume visa-free travel with quarantine and vaccine requirements in place can help Taiwan to remain competitive before the quarantine-free travel we’ve recently seen implemented in other countries is eventually adopted here.
Amid these concerns, we are encouraged by the strengthening of relations between Taiwan and the U.S. The new Technology Trade and Investment Collaboration framework linking the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Commerce Department is a tremendously promising complement to the “TIFA” and “EPPD” meetings which were also given fresh impetus in 2021. In fact, AmCham’s new Semiconductor Committee is already at work supporting the first of several TTIC working groups. Securing critical supply chains — from chips to eVs and beyond – is existential work, and it is hard to imagine a global solution that does not incorporate Taiwan!
AmCham firmly believes that a comprehensive Bilateral Trade Agreement – or BTA – is optimal for both sides, and we wish to call on Congress to initiate a study into the pursuit of a U.S.-Taiwan BTA. As we continue to press for broad negotiations, we also support the so-called chapter approach – narrow accords on digital trade, cybersecurity, industrial standards, and cross-border taxation – that can build up to a free trade agreement.
Beyond the BTA, we applaud the Biden Administration’s strategy for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Taiwan’s model is highly relevant to the hallmarks of this Strategy – connectedness, prosperity, security, and resilience; as has been well said recently, “Taiwan can help!”
At least on par with peer economies within the important CPTPP Agreement to which Taiwan has applied, this country has the capacity to contribute to high standards agreements in labor, sustainability and beyond. These topics will be workstreams of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework under the Indo-Pacific Strategy. I also urge our friends from AIT to relay to Washington our call for Taiwan’s inclusion within Framework discussions, as we look forward to doing in person through AmCham’s Washington Doorknock visits.
Of course, the primary purpose each year of this Hsieh Nien Fan is to express our gratitude to our friends and partners in the Taiwan government for their cooperation and support. With each passing year, the relationship simply gets better and better.
Although time unfortunately limits me from showing appreciation to each of our esteemed government guests individually, I would like to thank the National Development Council for their invaluable collaboration with the Chamber all year long and, particularly, in the fruitful discussions and meetings between our industry committees and corresponding government agencies to discuss 2021 White Paper issues.
Thank you, also, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their consistent support and special generosity in providing the Taipei Guest House to celebrate our 70th anniversary last November.
Naturally, our Chamber would never have thrived into its 71st year without help from another indispensable government partner. AmCham remains deeply indebted for the unceasing support from our good friends at AIT, now led by yet another extraordinary diplomat — who I hope will also enjoy her first Hsieh Nien Fan — Director Oudkirk.
In re-emphasizing the motif of the evening – gratitude – I would like to express my immense appreciation to Her Excellency President Tsai Ing-wen for joining us and delivering a keynote speech. By doing so, she continues a tradition started by the late President Lee Teng-hui and which has gone unbroken for more than two decades.
Again, it is our distinct honor to have President Tsai with us tonight, and I hope that all of you will enjoy this lovely evening.