AmCham Taipei Called on Taiwanese Government Leaders

AmCham Taipei delegations in recent weeks called on Taiwanese government leaders, including President Tsai Ing-wen and Premier Su Tseng-chang, to brief them on the Chamber’s CEO Mission to Washington, D.C. in June. The session with the Premier was also attended by representatives of other departments within the Executive Yuan, including Minister Chen Mei-ling of the National Development Council. Other recent meetings were with Foreign Minister David Lee and Minister without Portfolio and Chief Trade Negotiator John Deng.

The AmCham delegations at the meetings were led by Chairman Leo Seewald and President William Foreman, and included other members of the Chamber leadership and staff who participated in the visit to Washington.

The briefings focused on the key objectives of this year’s CEO Mission:

  • Helping to lay the groundwork for eventual FTA negotiations between the U.S. and Taiwan.
  • Encouraging early resumption of the bilateral TIFA process, including scheduling of a TIFA Council meeting.
  • Urging the U.S. to send high-level (especially Cabinet-level) officials on visits to Taiwan more frequently.

Although the CEO Mission did not encounter any immediate breakthroughs on these issues, it came away encouraged by an increasingly positive atmosphere in Washington regarding relations with Taiwan.

2019 CEO Mission Holds Successful D.C. Visit

AmCham Taipei’s recent delegation to Washington, D.C. came away encouraged by prospects for improved economic relations between Taiwan and the U.S.

“The US-Taiwan relationship continues to move in a positive direction, and we’re optimistic about the two sides eventually resuming TIFA talks after a nearly three-year hiatus,” said Chamber President William Foreman, referring to the main channel of trade negotiations between the two countries.

“The U.S. government also appears open to considering other ways to strengthen the relationship, such as entering into negotiations on the equivalent of a chapter of a free trade agreement,” Foreman added.

AmCham is therefore urging the Taiwan government to continue to push for U.S. consideration of Taiwan as a suitable candidate for a bilateral trade agreement. Successful TIFA (Trade and Investment Framework Agreement) consultations could help pave the way for such consideration.

Formerly known as the “Doorknock,” the annual trip was rebranded this year as AmCham Taipei’s “CEO Mission to Washington” to stress the delegation’s strategic and high-level nature. Conducted the week of June 17, the mission was led by Foreman together with Chamber Chairman Leo Seewald.

The group held a total of 35 meetings with executive branch agencies (including the National Security Council, State Department, and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative), members of Congress and their staffs, think tanks, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, and others concerned with U.S.-Taiwan economic relations.

Delegation with the National Security Council

Delegation with the State Department

Delegation with the U.S. Trade Representative

The heightened frustration in the U.S. over China’s unfair trade practices has led to increased support for bolstering economic ties with Taiwan, the delegation found. At the same time, Taiwan’s restrictions on the importation of certain U.S. beef and pork products remains a serious trade irritant.

Delegation with chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, Ambassador James Moriarty

As always on the annual visit to Washington, AmCham stressed Taiwan’s economic and strategic importance for the U.S. It called attention to Taiwan’s status as America’s 11th largest trading partner, its vibrant democracy and adherence to rule of law, and deep involvement in the supply chains of leading U.S. technology companies.

AmCham “CEO Mission to Washington” Trip

Each year, the release of the Taiwan White Paper is followed by a “CEO Mission to Washington”. The central purpose of the trip is to promote the Chamber’s agenda for this year and facilitate its advocacy efforts. The delegation will exchange views with U.S. government officials, members of Congress, think tanks, and others interested in the U.S.-Taiwan economic relationship. This is an opportunity for AmCham to provide briefings on the business climate in Taiwan and to learn about the latest developments in U.S. policy toward Taiwan, especially at a time of growing pressure from China.

The group will present the Taiwan White Paper to contacts in Washington and remind them of the economic and strategic importance of Taiwan. In the Messages to Washington section of the Taiwan White Paper, AmCham urges the U.S. administration and Congress to take into consideration ways to broaden and deepen the American relationship with Taiwan.

Read or download the complete Taiwan White Paper.

  • Suggestion 1: Enter into negotiations with Taiwan for a bilateral trade agreement (BTA).
  • Suggestion 2: Set the stage for BTA negotiations through the resumption of TIFA Council meetings.
  • Suggestion 3: Arrange more high-level government visits in both directions.
  • Suggestion 4: Implement tax reforms to relieve burdens on Americans overseas and help promote U.S. exports.

AmCham releases the 2019 Taiwan White Paper

AmCham Taipei released its 2019 Taiwan White Paper on May 29 at a news conference attended by more than 40 journalists, who raised questions on such subjects as development of the digital economy, labor policy, energy policy, and the likely impact on Taiwan of the U.S.-China trade war.

AmCham Chairman Leo Seewald briefed the attendees on the highlights of the 2019 Taiwan White Paper:

  • Another year with major progress – Of the 71 issues put forward to the Taiwan government in the 2018 Taiwan White Paper for improvement of the business climate, eight were rated solved – three less than the all-time record of 11 last year. The eight issues included four from the cosmetics industry and one each from the Agro-chemicals, Capital Markets, Human Resources, and the Telecommunications and Media sectors. Another 15 issues were cited as showing good progress.
  • Challenges for Taiwan – Taiwan continues to face political pressure from China, economic fallout from the U.S.-China trade war, and internal challenges such as the rapidly aging population and shortages of land, labor, and other resources.
  • Positive developments – The U.S.-China tariff war also provides opportunities for Taiwan to attract manufacturing investment. The warm relationship with the U.S. offers hope that a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) could be negotiated.
  • The importance of innovation – Taiwan is on the right track in focusing attention on the “5+2 Innovative Industries” to enhance its global competitiveness.
  • The urgent need for focus – As there is no guarantee as to how long the current favorable conditions will last, this is a critical point in time. Taiwan cannot afford to be let the upcoming presidential election campaigns totally distract public attention from the crucial reform agenda.

2019 Taiwan White Paper Presentation from AmCham Taipei

Following the conference, the Chamber held a luncheon meeting in the Grand Ballroom of the Regent Taipei. Over 100 members and guests were at the event, including Minister Chen Mei-ling of the National Development Council (NDC), who accepted the White Paper on behalf of the Taiwan government. The minister thanked and praised AmCham Taipei for providing suggestions that will “help build a more internationalized business environment in Taiwan.” She said the government worked hard to eliminate the obstacles to investment cited in the White Paper.

Chen also asked AmCham member companies’ help in promoting the government’s three current flagship projects:

  • Regional Revitalization. Encouraging business investment in cities outside of Taipei, especially those in the Southern part of Taiwan, to bring value to unique industries that are suitable for various cities and towns.
  • Bilingual Nation. Promoting English as an official language to enhance Taiwan’s international competitiveness.
  • Smart Government. Improve government systems by integrating innovative smart services so that 98% of all government procedures can be performed online by 2025.

The Chamber thanks the NDC and the 23 government agencies for their continued support in coordinating cross-ministerial meetings to discuss AmCham’s issues and taking the Chamber’s suggestions into consideration. AmCham Taipei looks forward to working more closely with the government to promote economic growth and ensure that Taiwan remains a vigorous part of the international community.

2018 AmCham Doorknock – June 18-22

The Chamber’s annual “Doorknock” visit to Washington DC this year took place between June 18 and 22. The group held a total of 45 meetings, including calls on the State Department, Commerce Department, National Security Council, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, dozens of Congressional offices, and leading think tanks. The delegation, which was led by AmCham President William Foreman and Vice Chairman Leo Seewald, was also invited for tea by Taiwan’s representative in Washington, Stanley Kao, at the Twin Oaks estate owned by Taiwan.

Delegation members visit the State Department.

The Doorknock group with Commerce Department officials.

A central purpose of the Doorknock was to remind contacts in Washington of “why Taiwan matters,” including its rank as the United States’ 11th largest trading partner, integral role in the supply chain of major American technology companies, vibrant democracy, and sharing of basic American values. The delegation also urged the U.S. government to schedule regular consultations with Taiwan under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) umbrella, explore entering into negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement, and send more high-level American officials on visits to Taiwan. In both executive and legislative branch offices, the group heard expressions of desire to deepen the economic relationship between the United States and Taiwan, especially if existing trade differences surrounding the export of U.S. meat products could be resolved.

The delegation was received at the U.S. Trade Representative.

Delegation members with Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS).

Besides Foreman and Seewald, other members of the delegation included Wendy Lin, General Manager of Johnson & Johnson Taiwan and a co-chair of AmCham’s Pharmaceutical Committee; Petra Jumpers, General Manager of Eli Lilly and Co. (Taiwan) and another Pharmaceutical Committee co-chair; Christine Kuan, External Affairs & Market Access Director at Bristol-Myers Squibb (Taiwan), representing the Public Health Committee; Natasha Lai, Senior New Product Planning & Government Affairs Manager for Eli Lilly (Taiwan); T.K. Lo, Technical & Regulatory Manager at Amway Taiwan; Lynn Cinelli, Director of Emerging Markets Public Policy for Merck Sharp & Dohme; Nathan Kaiser of the law firm Eiger; Don Shapiro, AmCham Senior Director and Editor-in-Chief of Taiwan Business TOPICS; and Any Chang, AmCham Senior Director for Government and Public Affairs.

For many meetings they were joined by the Washington-based representatives of AmCham member companies or cooperative organizations, including AdvaMed, Amway, Bechtel, Cigna, Herbalife, Medtronic, Microsoft, Prudential, and Versum Materials.

While traversing the halls of Congress, the AmCham Doorknockers met a large delegation of Taiwanese-American businesspeople from the World Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce who were on a similar mission.

2018 Messages to Washington

Following release each year of the Taiwan White PaperAmCham Taipei sends a delegation to Washington D.C. for what is called the “Washington Doorknock.” This year’s Doorknock will take place June 18-22, and will involve more than 40 meetings with U.S. government officials from the executive and legislative branch offices, think tanks, and others interested in the U.S.-Taiwan economic relationship. It is always an excellent opportunity for AmCham to provide briefings on the state of the business climate in Taiwan and to learn about the latest developments in U.S. policy toward Taiwan and the Asian region.

The Messages to Washington section of the Taiwan White Paper outlines the essential points AmCham wishes to share with the U.S. government, as shown in the accompanying infographicDownload the complete Taiwan White Paper.

 

AmCham’s 13 Issues for Special Attention

During the preparation of the 2018 Taiwan White Paper, AmCham Taipei’s committees reviewed and rated the status of issues raised in the 2017 White Paper. Based on a five-tier scale, 21 items were placed in Category 2, meaning “Showing Good Progress.” Of the 21 items, eight were identified by the committees as having strong enough progress that the issue did not need to be raised again. The other 13 issues rated in Category 2 reappear in this year’s White Paper. 

Although all of the 76 suggestions raised in this year’s Taiwan White Paper are important and deserve consideration, AmCham Taipei recommends that the authorities pay special attention to these re-raised 13 issues below. Committee experts are confident that the positive momentum from this past year’s collaboration with the Taiwan government through the National Development Council will continue, hopefully enabling these 13 issues to be fully resolved.

AmCham Taipei has put together an infographic summarizing these Category 2 issues, spanning across 8 industries from Banking to Travel & Tourism.

 

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

“Memo from Taipei” Goes to International Contacts

This month AmCham Taipei sent out the latest edition of our periodic Memo from Taipei designed to update the Chamber’s friends and contacts abroad about the latest developments here. The Memo went to a mailing list of about 135 people, including Washington-based government affairs representatives from our member companies, as well as U.S. government officials, think tank scholars, and others who follow U.S.-Taiwan relations closely.

If your company has a Washington representative that you would like added to the mailing list, please let us know.

The latest Memo announced the appointment of William Foreman as the new President of AmCham Taipei, Albert Chang’s reelection as Chairman for 2018, and the list of other Standing Officers for this year. It also conveyed the following information:

Progress in 2017

  • The Legislative Yuan finished the year on a high note by passing long-awaited amendments to the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act instituting a system of Patent Linkage for pharmaceuticals for the first time. The proposal had been in AmCham Taipei’s Taiwan White Paper for more than a decade, as well as on the agenda of the bilateral TIFA talks between Taiwan and the U.S. The new law creates a mechanism to ensure that generic forms of drugs still under valid patent in Taiwan cannot legally enter the market, and represents a major advance for Taiwan’s intellectual property rights protection.
  • At AmCham Taipei’s urging, the Executive Yuan in October 2016 increased the notice and comment period for new regulations and trade-related legislation from a mere 14 days to a full 60 days, except in cases of emergency. During the past year the Chamber, working together with the National Development Council (NDC), has been tracking the degree of adherence to that provision – and has seen a steady increase in compliance. AmCham’s emphasis is now on encouraging stakeholders to submit their comments and government agencies to provide meaningful feedback. If such dialogue can become the norm, many of the past difficulties in the regulatory regime could be prevented, the Chamber believes.
  • When the 2017 Taiwan White Paper was issued last June, it was disclosed that none of the 80 White Paper issues from the previous edition had been fully resolved. In response, the Taiwan government scheduled a series of quarterly meetings with AmCham committee representatives to discuss outstanding White Paper items in hopes of raising the success rate. So far two such meetings have been held, presided over by an NDC Vice Minister. Final results will be analyzed at the end of a one-year cycle.

 

2018 Advocacy Items

  • AmCham Taipei was disappointed that President Trump chose to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as the Chamber viewed the TPP as important for American leadership in the Asia Pacific and hoped that Washington would support Taiwan’s desire to entire the TPP in a second round. Given the President’s aversion to multilateral trade agreements, however, we now urge the United States to consider entering into a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan, its 10th largest trading partner. We are convinced that such negotiations are the best way to resolve existing bilateral trade issues and to deepen the economic cooperation between the two countries. From both an economic and strategic point of view, this step would be in the best interests of the U.S. At the same time, AmCham Taipei encourages Taiwan to seek eventual membership in the apparent successor to the TPP, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
  • The Chamber’s member companies, particularly those engaged in high-tech manufacturing, continue to be concerned about the future sufficiency, reliability, and cost of electricity in this market. The Taiwan government has committed itself to shutting down all nuclear power plants by 2025, at the same time sharply cutting back on carbon emissions. AmCham Taipei does not take issue with the aims of the policy, but questions remain as to whether it can be implemented within the designated timeframe given the many challenges involved in rapidly expanding reliance on wind and solar power, as well as the infrastructure to receive imported LNG. For their business planning, both multinational and domestic companies need a clearer energy roadmap from the authorities.
  • The amended Labor Standards Act that took effect last year – instituting new rules for working hours, overtime, and other working conditions – was highly controversial and left both employers and employees dissatisfied. A revised version now before the Legislative Yuan may be a slight improvement but does not tackle what AmCham Taipei considers to be the crux of the problem – the failure to distinguish between professional/managerial personnel and blue-collar workers. Taiwan’s avowed aspiration to develop an innovation-driven economy will not be furthered by treating knowledge workers the same way as those on a factory production line, for example requiring them to clock in and clock out. In fact, that requirement is wholly impractical in an age of global interconnectedness and will constitute a deterrent to investment.

Cross-Agency Meetings with NDC

Representatives of six AmCham Taipei committees had the opportunity on August 30 to discuss their key White Paper issues with their regulators at a meeting presided over by Deputy Minister Kung Ming-hsin of the National Development Council (NDC). The four-hour meeting in the NDC conference room was the first in what will be quarterly sessions until the 2018 White Paper is launched next June.

The government suggested holding the series of meetings to facilitate progress on White Paper issues after learning that none of the 80 issues from the 2016 White Paper had been totally resolved.

The committees and their issues were:

  • Travel and Tourism, regarding Taiwan’s policy of requiring refunds for canceled hotel reservations, even when customers agreed to non-cancellability as part of special promotional offers.
  • Intellectual Property, on proposed revisions to the Copyright Act.
  • Retail, concerning problems with mandatory inspection of various imported products in certified domestic laboratories.
  • Insurance, on suggested measures to incentivize insurers to offer protection insurance.
  • Capital Markets, on proposals to relax existing securities investment rules to permit broader participation.
  • Banking, regarding regulatory restrictions on the onshore wealth-management business. The Banking Bureau also agreed to a 2016 White Paper request for “double-hatting”: allowing bank personnel to take charge of bond agency and derivative information and advisory functions concurrently.

August 30, 2017 – The first quarterly meeting with the National Development Council

“The meeting was a great start for the new post-White Paper process, but much still remains in flux,” says AmCham Taipei President Andrea Wu. “We appreciate the Taiwan government’s efforts to actively address our issues, and hope to see early resolution to many of these longstanding challenges.”