USEPA Meets with AmCham Taipei

During a recent visit to Taipei, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Acting Assistant Administrator Jane Nishida, met with AmCham Taipei on July 7th. Nishida has over 30 years of environmental experience working in federal and state government, and international and nongovernmental organizations. She currently leads EPA’s international and tribal engagements, and works closely with tribal governments, foreign governments, international organizations, and other U.S. agency partners on matters relating to environmental policy and program implementation in tribal lands and internationally.

Justin Harris, Senior Program Manager from the EPA, accompanied Nishida to meet with members from AmCham Taipei, including President Andrea Wu; Sustainable Development Committee Co-chair Kenny Jeng, A/P Product Stewardship Manager of DuPont Taiwan Ltd. and Co-chair Cosmas Lu, Strategy Adviser of Super Dragon Technology Co. Ltd.,; Public and Government Affairs Consultant Stella Lai from Dell Taiwan; and Senior Manager for APJ Environmental Affairs & Producer Responsibility Vivian Tai, also from Dell.

From left to right: Anna Wang, Economic Officer, AIT Econ Section; Kenny Jeng of DuPont Taiwan, AmCham Taipei Sustainable & Development Committee Co-chair; Andrea Wu, AmCham Taipei President; Jane Nishida, USEPA Acting Assistant Administrator; Cosmas Lu of Super Dragon, AmCham Taipei Sustainable Development Committee Co-chair; Stella Lai of Dell Taiwan, AmCham Taipei Tax Committee Co-chair; Vivian Tai, also from Dell Taiwan; and Justin Harris, USEPA Senior Program Manager

The purpose of the trip was to meet with the Taiwan government and U.S. business community to discuss the different elements of the U.S.-Taiwan and APEC regional environmental cooperation. Some of the key areas of discussion include 1) Monitoring Air Quality 2) Mercury Pollution 3) Circular Economy and 4) International E-Waste Network (IEWN). Members of AmCham Taipei also exchanged their views with the USEPA officials on corporate sustainability programs and challenges in the region, especially Taiwan.

Two Congresswomen Visit AmCham Taipei

Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) and Representative Nanette Barragan (D-CA) called at the AmCham Taipei office on May 9 during their three-day stay in Taiwan. Accompanied by Congresswoman Lawrence’s legislative aide Alex Huang, a Taiwanese-American, they met with the Chamber’s Senior Director Don Shapiro, Senior Director for Government & Public Affairs Amy Chang, and Government & Public Affairs Manager Erica Lai. The group was joined by two representatives from Herbalife Nutrition, whose headquarters in the Los Angeles area is near Congresswoman Lawrence’s district: Taiwan General Manager Ceasar Chen and Senior Manager for Regulatory, Government & Industry Affairs Alex Lin.

Representative Lawrence explained that the main purpose of the trip was to make up for her inability to come last year for the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen and Vice President Chen Chien-jen. But she and Representative Barragan, whose district is in Detroit, were also looking for potential business opportunities in Taiwan for companies in their districts. As skilled manpower training and port operations are among their particular interests, their itinerary included Taiwan’s occupational training center and Kaohsiung Harbor.

From left to right: Amy Chang, Chamber’s Senior Director for Government & Public Affairs; Don Shapiro, Chamber’s Senior Director; Representative Nanette Barragan (D-CA); Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-MI); Caesar Chen, General Manager, Herbalife Taiwan Inc.; Alex Lin, Senior Manager of Worldwide Regulatory, Government, & Industry Affairs at Herbalife Taiwan Inc.

Technology Licensing Expert Dialogue

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham), in partnership with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), and the Taiwan–USA Industrial Cooperation Office (TUSA), hosted a Technology Licensing Expert Dialogue on March 30.

Building on the success of the second Digital Economy Forum in October, 2016, the dialogue brought together legal and technology experts from the United States and Taiwan to discuss practical guidance on the booming US$5 billion trade in technology licensing. The esteemed speakers included Hong Shu-ming, Director General of the Taiwan Intellectual Protection Office (TIPO) and the Honorable Judge Sidney H. Stein of the United States District Court Southern District of New York, who opened the forum.

Hosted by Kris Kvols, economic officer at AIT, over 100 participants listened to presentations discussing myriad complexities of licensing technology between American, Taiwanese, and Chinese markets.

2017 Business Climate Survey Press Conference

Representatives of some 30 Taiwan media organizations came to AmCham Taipei’s Lincoln Room today for a briefing by Chamber chairman Albert Chang, managing partner in Taiwan for the global consulting firm McKinsey & Co., on the results of AmCham’s 2017 Business Climate Survey. The seventh annual survey was conducted between October and December last year, with 173 top executives of AmCham’s member companies responding.

Chang stressed that the survey respondents view Taiwan as a positive business environment. Most companies made money in 2016 and expect good revenue and profits in the year to come, and they are continuing to invest in this market and add more employment.

Albert_Chang_BCS_2017

Albert Chang, Chamber chairman Albert Chang, managing partner in Taiwan for the global consulting firm McKinsey & Co., presents AmCham’s 2017 Business Climate Survey.

“The problem is that the pace of improvement is not fast enough,” said Chang. He noted that three areas in particular stood out as needing government attention:

1) Government regulations and the rules-making process. Needed is more transparency, consistency, and prior consultation with stakeholders. Chang commended the government of Premier Lin Chuan for recently increasing the notice and comment period for new regulations from 14 to 60 days, and urged government agencies to fully utilize this platform by providing meaningful responses to public comments.

2) The new Labor Law provisions. Chang described the new amendments as a “big headache for many companies” both in terms of increased costs and continued lack of clarity about how to be in compliance.

3) Cross-Strait relations. “Investors value certainty and stability,” Chang observed.

Other points covered by the survey include:

  • Trade agreements. Although the Trump administration has withdrawn the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, new opportunities may arise for strengthening U.S.-Taiwan economic relations through bilateral rather than multilateral channels, possibly including a “free and fair trade agreement” and/or a bilateral investment agreement, said Chang. He said the survey showed strong membership support for bilateral exchanges with the U.S. through the TIFA (Trade and Investment Framework Agreement) process.
  • Tsai administration’s priority objectives. The respondents reported that the five pillar industries that the new government has targeted for development are relevant to their businesses and offer good opportunities for public/private collaboration. Chang called the setting of the policy directions “a good start,” and urged the government to form task forces in each of the five sectors to reach out to the private sector on means of cooperation.
  • Role of the six major municipalities. For the first time, the survey asked members how their businesses are impacted by municipal governments. The results pointed to significant room for improvement in how local governments facilitate business, treat foreign companies, and align their rules with national-level regulations.
  • Personnel. As in past surveys, respondents highly applauded Taiwanese employees’ work ethic and trustworthiness. The main areas of weakness were innovation and creativity.
  • Life in Taiwan. Once again, respondents were enthusiastic about Taiwan as a safe and friendly place to live, with good-quality medical care. Problem areas cited included pedestrian traffic safety and air quality.

Chang noted that Taiwan has lagged behind most other countries in the region in recent years in attracting Foreign Direct Investment. But he said that if the “cloud” of the several key problem areas could be removed, Taiwan should be able to dramatically enhance its investment attractiveness.

To view the full press release, or download the 2017 BCS report, follow the links below:

2017 Business Climate Survey Press Release (English)

2017 Business Climate Survey Press Release (Chinese)

2017 Business Climate Survey Report (PDF) 

2017 Business Climate Survey Press Announcement

This morning, AmCham Taipei presented its 2017 Business Climate Survey report at a press conference held in AmCham Taipei’s Lincoln Room.

AmCham Chairman Albert Chang introduced the Business Climate Survey, highlighting key reasons why this year’s report is more meaningful than those of previous years: Taiwan is at a precipice of uncertainty in the international arena, and now it needs more than ever to pick up the pace in improving regulatory issues and attracting foreign investment.

Live video of the press conference, courtesy of McKinsey Taiwan

For this year’s survey, AmCham Taipei invited 412 voting representatives (usually the top executive) of the Chamber’s member companies to answer a series of questions about the business environment in an online questionnaire. In conducting the survey and analyzing the data, the Chamber was grateful for the professional guidance of Independent Marketing & Research.

Each year, we have intentionally asked our business leaders the same, or nearly the same, set of questions. As a result, we have been able to track the degree of progress – or the lack thereof – across key issues over that period.

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AmCham President Andrea Wu and Albert Chang, Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company, co-present the 2017 Business Climate Survey Report to media representatives at the February 20 press conference.

To view the full press release, or download the 2017 BCS report, follow the links below:

2017 Business Climate Survey Press Release (English)

2017 Business Climate Survey Press Release (Chinese)

2017 Business Climate Survey Report (PDF) 

 

Participate on Join.gov.tw to Make Taiwan Better

Recently, the Executive Yuan instructed that all draft regulations of trade, investment, and intellectual property rights laws must be given a 60 day commenting period to allow feedback to be gathered from industry and the public. Furthermore, in order to generate the widest possible coverage, the Executive Yuan has instructed that such draft regulations should not only be announced through existing channels but also on its online portal, “Join,” accessible at ( https://join.gov.tw/ ).

Join, developed by National Development Council (NDC) with assistance from the office of Digital Minister Audrey Tang, facilitates two-way communication between government offices and members of the public on regulatory matters.

AmCham-Leaders-with-Minister-Tang

AmCham leaders paid a visit to Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister, last year to encourage the enhancement of the Government’s web-based regulatory commenting system.

AmCham Taipei is calling  on its member companies, especially those in highly regulated sectors of the economy, to participate in carefully tracking the status of new regulations through join.gov.tw and to work through the Chamber’s industry committees to help prepare well-considered comments for posting on Join.

Through effective use of this platform, Taiwan has an opportunity to boost government efficiency, promote broader participation in public affairs, and create a sounder business environment that may stimulate increased investment leading to stronger economic growth.

For more information, you may also read our Editorial in the latest issue of Taiwan Business TOPICS Magazine here.

Notice: Executive Yuan Extends Notice & Comment Period for Draft Regulations to 60 Days

Earlier this month, the Executive Yuan (EY) issued a directive to extend the Notice & Comment period for all draft regulations from 14 days to 60 days. Further, effective 10/1/2016, the new 60-day rule will also apply to EY drafts of proposed legislation applicable to trade, investment or IPR matters. Below, please find the original document in Mandarin Chinese and an unofficial English translation for your reference:

Original Mandarin Chinese Document

Unofficial English Translation

For the business community, this promising regulatory improvement has been the change that AmCham Taipei actively pursued as one of our top priorities for the past two years. We see this reform as a sign of the current Administration’s willingness to proactively engage the public and industry stakeholders to improve the regulatory transparency.
AmCham Taipei strongly encourages you and your business partners in Taiwan to take advantage of this great opportunity and whenever possible, make frequent and meaningful comment submission on new and/or existing draft regulations and/or laws.

We are very excited about this new change. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our Government Affairs department using the contact form on this website or by phone. Contact info available here.

Thank you very much for your support.

Post-Doorknock High-level Meetings

Following the annual AmCham Taipei Doorknock visit to Washington D.C., the Chamber leadership each year holds a round of meetings with high-ranking government officials to brief them on the results of the trip.

On July 27, a Chamber delegation led by Chairman Dan Silver met with Premier Lin Chuan at the Executive Yuan, discussing such issues as prospects for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, regulatory coherence, energy policy, labor-related regulations, and the investment climate. Also in attendance were representatives from the National Development Council, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Labor.

2016-amcham-post-doorknock-chairman-dan-silver

Similar delegations called on Secretary General Joseph Wu of the National Security Council on August 5 and on Vice Minister Leo Lee, substituting for Minister David Lee, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 8.

Additional meetings with other government ministries and relevant organizations are being scheduled

2016 post-doorknock

AmCham Meets with Control Yuan

control-yuan-building-taiwan

Concerned about the low level of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Taiwan in recent years compared with other countries in the Asia Pacific, the government’s Control Yuan has set up a task force to look into the reasons and propose solutions. The four Control Yuan members making up the task force – Chang Kuei-Mei, Nancy Hsiao-Hung Chen, Lee Yueh-Der, and Liu Te-Hsun – invited representatives from AmCham Taipei and other foreign and domestic business organizations for a discussion of the issue on May 19.

The Control Yuan, one of the five branches of government in the Republic of China, is an investigatory body that monitors the other branches of government. Wikipedia compares it roughly to the Government Accountability Office of the United States, the Court of Auditors of the European Union, a political ombudsman, or a standing commission for administrative inquiry. After completing its study, the task force on FDI plans to submit a report for the reference of the Executive Yuan.

At the May 19 meeting, AmCham Taipei was represented by Senior Director of Government & Public Affairs Amy Chang and Government & Public Affairs Director Katrina Ku. Other organizations that participated in the session were the European Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan, the Chinese National Federation of Industries, and the Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association.

The business representatives mentioned the complicated regulatory process and Taiwan’s lack of Free Trade Agreements with major trading partners as factors that tend to retard investment.

AmCham Committees Connect with USTR

USTR-visit-amcham-taipei

One of AmCham Taipei’s most important functions is to provide a channel for the concerns of member companies to be communicated, through the Chamber’s committees, to the U.S. government.

Throughout the year there are numerous opportunities to interact with the Economic and Commercial Sections of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and the annual Doorknock visit to Washington is a chance to meet with the key executive-branch agencies and Congressional offices interested in U.S.-Taiwan trade and investment relations.

Another such opportunity arises when the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) send a delegation to Taiwan, which often occurs in the lead-up to the annual bilateral negotiations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

Such a delegation was in Taipei for a week toward the end of April, consisting of officers from USTR, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the AIT Washington office.

AmCham Taipei arranged for a series of meetings at which committee leaders briefed the U.S. government visitors on the latest developments in their sectors. The schedule included meetings covering the following topics:

  • Administrative Procedure Act
  • Agriculture
  • Imports & exports
  • Food safety
  • Retail
  • Intellectual Property & Licensing
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical Devices
  • Foreign investment
  • Private Equity

On behalf of the American delegation, Monica He of USTR expressed thanks to AmCham for providing a wide-ranging and thorough explanation of current issues. The 2016 round of the TIFA talks is expected to take place this fall.