Former Ambassador Kurt Tong Briefs AmCham Leaders

When AmCham Taiwan conducts its Doorknock missions to Washington, D.C., Kurt Tong is the kind of expert on U.S. Asia policy that the delegation seeks out for advice on its dealings with the U.S. government. A former U.S. Ambassador to APEC and Counsel-General in Hong Kong, Tong is now in the private sector as a partner at The Asia Group, a Washington-based strategic advisory firm founded by Kurt Campbell, currently the Biden Administration’s top official for Asia.

In a “virtual Doorknock” necessitated by the COVID pandemic, Tong shared his views on U.S.-Taiwan relations via video conference with 18 members of the AmCham Board and staff on May 25. The topics covered included the Biden Administration’s priorities with regard to Asia policy, trade policy, and the protection of sophisticated technology supply chains. Tong encouraged the Chamber to be “forceful and direct” in communicating its advocacy agenda to the U.S. government, including the need for early resumption of the “TIFA talks” trade negotiations.  

MOEA Minister Meets with AmCham Leadership

Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua and her colleagues met with members of the AmCham Taiwan Board on April 27. The two sides exchanged views on the latest trade and economic developments between the U.S. and Taiwan. As the two partners face current global challenges together, relations between them grow even stronger. During the meeting, Minister Wang also took the time to address questions related to investment opportunities in Taiwan.

Attending from the AmCham side were Chairperson CW Chin; Standing Vice Chairperson Fupei Wang; Vice Chairperson Tim Shields; Secretary Daniel Tseng; Treasurer Angela Yu; Governors Brian Sung, Roger Yee, Justin Chin, and Cynthia Chin; Supervisors Max Chen and Seraphim Ma; AmCham Director of Government and Public Affairs Gwenyth Wang-Reeves and Manager Jack Lu.

Wrapping up the 2020 White Paper Meetings

Last week, AmCham Taiwan concluded the third and final meeting between its various industry committees and representatives of relevant government agencies to discuss progress on the 2020 White Paper issues. The meetings, coordinated by the National Development Council and presided over by NDC Minister Kung Ming-hsin, were launched in 2018 as a way of increasing collaboration between the Chamber and the Taiwanese government and to push for better communication and resolution of industry and regulatory issues.

In general, the overall tone and direction of the meetings, which took place over three three-hour sessions, was positive. The benefit of having committee co-chairs and representatives make their case face-to-face with their government counterparts is that it allows for more in-depth discussion, and Minister Kung worked hard to find common ground between the two sides, at times suggesting one-one-one meetings to hammer out certain issues.

Among the highlights of the NDC meetings was the Financial Supervisory Commission’s (FSC) commitment to working with the Central Bank (CBC) to assist the Asset Management Committee with resolving its issue regarding the issuance of multi-currency funds by privately placed securities investment trust enterprise funds (SITE). In addition, the FSC noted that it will release a directive by the end of March allowing foreign institutional investors (FINI) to invest in exchange traded notes (ETN), helping to resolve one of the Capital Markets Committee’s 2020 issues.

Some of the government representatives present at the meetings expressed an openness to establishing direct channels with their private sector counterparts to continue discussing items where there appeared to be room for compromise or forward movement. Included among these items was the Technology Committee’s request that the government avoid prescriptive labeling of tech products – in particular, pre-loaded software applications on mobile devices – for cybersecurity purposes. The Chemical Manufacturers Committee also appeared to make some headway in persuading the government to consider adopting international standards for management of chemical products, as well as to work with the committee to help improve the public image of the chemical industry.

Other areas where progress appeared to be made included the Transportation and Logistics Committee’s 2020 White Paper issue regarding expanding fiscal incentives for electric vehicle buyers. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) representative cited its plans to extend the commodity tax exemption for electric vehicle purchases, which was set to expire at the end of 2021. The Intellectual Property and Licensing Committee was invited by the National Communications Commission (NCC) to join a working group composed of the NCC, the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to discuss difficult IPR issues.

Not all of the discussions proceeded equally smoothly, and there were some longstanding issues that continue to require further communication between industry and the regulators. Chief among these is the Medical Devices Committee’s recommendation that the government accept the Medical Device Single Audit Program (MDSAP) audit report as a substitute for the current Establishment Inspection Report (EIR) for the review and approval of new medical devices. AmCham hopes that the relevant stakeholders of these issues can continue working together to achieve actionable solutions.

The Chamber is grateful to Minister Kung and his colleagues at the NDC for their assistance in arranging the quarterly White Paper meetings, as well as to the various government agencies for their time and willingness to communicate and work with AmCham’s industry committees. AmCham looks forward to continuing its advocacy work through its annual production of the Taiwan White Papers and its collaboration with industry and public sector partners.

AmCham and AIT Hold First Quarterly Meeting of 2021

AIT Director Brent Christensen and several colleagues from the Institute’s Economic and Commercial Sections met with Chamber representatives and staff at AmCham Taiwan’s newly renovated office on March 9. It was the first quarterly meeting to be held between the two organizations this year.

Gathering in the Chamber’s meeting room and snacking on fresh Taiwanese pineapple, the meeting’s participants discussed a wide range of topics, including prospects for resuming Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks between the U.S. and Taiwan under the newly inaugurated Biden administration. Other issue areas included the Taiwan government’s progress on some of its flagship policy initiatives, while Chamber leadership conveyed issues related to their respective industries.

Attending the meeting from AmCham’s side were Chairperson CW Chin; President Leo Seewald; Board members Tim Shields, Angela Yu, Daniel Tseng, Roger Yee, Cynthia Chyn, Max Chen, and Shelley Chia; and AmCham Senior Director of Government and Public Affairs Gwenyth Wang-Reeves, Senior Advisor Don Shapiro, and Senior Editor of Publications Jeremy Olivier. AmCham Tax Committee Co-Chairs Cheli Liaw and Heidi Liu also joined the meeting to raise the issue of a double taxation agreement between the U.S. and Taiwan.

Director Christensen was accompanied by AIT Commercial Section Chief Brent Omdahl, Economic Section Chief Danielle Andrews, Economic Section Deputy Chief Arati Shroff, and Commercial Section Deputy Chief Andrew Gately.

AmCham Representatives Meet with U.S. Patent Trademark Office Officials

Two ranking officials from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office – Senior Counsel for China IP Policy Michael Mangelson and Senior Quality Advisor Anthony Caputo – paid a visit to AmCham Taipei on November 8  to learn more about intellectual property issues currently faced by companies operating in Taiwan. The meeting was attended by representatives from six Chamber member companies, including IPR Committee Co-chair Peter Dernbach of Winkler Partners.

During the meeting, attendees discussed digital piracy and copyright issues, especially regarding the dissemination in Taiwan of pirated content hosted on servers in other jurisdictions. Another major topic was the protection of trade secrets in light of the number of Taiwanese engineers being poached by Chinese tech companies.

Mangelson mentioned that during the 1980s, he had been an intern at a law firm in Worldwide House, the same building that houses the AmCham Taipei office. The firm, Huang & Partners, was also the former workplace of Tsai Ing-wen, who was a partner specializing in international economic law.

Senator Ted Cruz Attends National Day Celebration, Meets with AmCham Taipei

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and former presidential candidate, became the first U.S. senator in 35 years to attend Taiwan’s National Day celebrations when he visited Taipei on Oct. 9-10. The senator’s visit was part of a swing through the region that also included Japan, India and Hong Kong. After observing the National Day festivities, Senator Cruz had lunch with AmCham Taipei Chairman Leo Seewald and President William Foreman. Also attending was Brent Christensen, the director of the American Institute in Taiwan. Topics of discussion included business opportunities for U.S. companies in Taiwan, the country’s relations with China and the outlook for Taiwan’s economy.

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.

U.S. Treasury Officials Call at AmCham

During a mid-July visit to Taiwan, Mitchell Silk, Acting Assistant Secretary for International Markets at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, met at Amcham Taipei with members of the Chamber’s infrastructure, energy, and banking committees. He was accompanied by David Gottfried, Deputy Director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Investment, Energy, and Infrastructure.

The Treasury officials were visiting various countries in East Asia to explore such topics as debt market development, increasing private sector participation in public infrastructure projects, and promoting competitive procurement policies.

Before joining the government in October 2017, Silk had a 30-year legal career specializing in energy and infrastructure matters, asset management, banking and finance, especially in Asia. He speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese.

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 Leadership Quarterly Meeting

Members of the leadership of AmCham Taipei and the American Institute in Taiwan held their first quarterly meeting of the year on Feb. 14 at the Chamber’s Lincoln Room. AmCham leaders briefed AIT Director Brent Christensen and his colleagues on the results of the Chamber’s Business Climate Survey, including factors causing concern for global companies operating in Taiwan. The two sides also exchanged views on bilateral economic ties and discussed opportunities to work closely together in the coming year in observance of the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act that established AIT.

Attending the meeting from AIT Taipei were Director Christensen, Economic Section Chief Jeff Horwitz, Commercial Section Chief Helen Peterson, Agricultural Section Chief Mark Petry, and Economic Officer Phill Loosli. Representing AmCham were President William Foreman, Chairman Leo Seewald, Standing Vice Chairman Chyi-Woei Chin, Vice Chairwoman Petra Jumpers, AmCham Governor Jan-Hendrik Meidinger, AmCham Supervisor Dylan Tyson, Senior Director and Taiwan Business TOPICS Editor-in-chief Don Shapiro, and Senior Director for Government & Public Affairs Amy Chang.