AIT/W’s Norris Calls on AmCham

During his first visit to Taiwan since taking his current position in September 2016, John J. Norris Jr., Managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan’s Washington office (AIT/W), met with AmCham Taipei governors and senior staff on October 26 at the Chamber’s Lincoln Room for an exchange of views on U.S.-Taiwan economic relations. Norris had previously met with AmCham’s “Doorknock” delegation in Washington in June.

The topics raised by AmCham included:

  • The significance for both the Taiwanese and U.S. economies of the close collaboration between companies in the two countries in the field of semiconductors, and the importance of maintaining the security of advanced technology in that industry.
  • The benefit that Taiwanese investors could receive from pension reform that opens the market to wider choice for individual consumers.
  • The difficulties for both employers and employees caused by the recently implemented Labor Law revisions that impose rigid regulations regarding working hours, overtime pay, and other working conditions.

A career foreign service officer, Norris served in both AIT Taipei and AIT Kaohsiung early in his career. Among his other posts related to Taiwan, he was Director of the Office of Taiwan Coordination (1998-2000) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs (with responsibility for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mongolia) from 2008 to 2009.

Meeting with Senator Steve Daines

Representatives from AmCham Taipei met with visiting U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MO) at the American Institute in Taiwan during his one-day trip to Taiwan on September 22. Daines is the only member of the Senate with experience working in Asia, and he expressed a keen interest in strengthening U.S.-Taiwan relations.

Representatives from AmCham Taipei met with U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MO)

A chemical engineering graduate of Montana State University, Daines spent 13 years with Procter & Gamble, including six years living in Hong Kong and China  spearheading P&G’s entry into the China market. His business experience also includes three years with his family’s construction company in Montana, and service with RightNow Technologies, a cloud-based software company, as Vice President of North America Sales and Vice President of the Asia-Pacific division.

Attending the meeting from AmCham were Standing Vice Chairman Dan Silver, President Andrea Wu, Former Chairmen Paul Cassingham and Thomas McGowan, Governor and Human Resources Committee Co-chair Seraphim Ma, and Senior Directors Don Shapiro and Amy Chang.

New NDC Minister Chen Mei-ling Visits AmCham

Just two weeks after taking office as Minister of the National Development Council (NDC), Chen Mei-ling paid a courtesy call at AmCham Taipei accompanied by colleagues including Deputy Minister Kao Shien-quey, Director-general Connie Chang of the Department of Overall Planning, Director of the Minister’s Office Ray Chou, and staff members from the Council’s Regulatory Reform Center.

The group was received at AmCham Taipei’s 6th floor Lincoln Room by Standing Vice Chairman Dan Silver, Vice Chairman Daniel Tseng, President Andrea Wu, Former Chairman Paul Cassingham, Governors Tim Ju and Vincent Shih, and Senior Directors Don Shapiro and Amy Chang.

The discussion covered a wide range of topics including energy policy, the labor law, government procurement, healthcare policy, the automotive industry, the promotion of data technology, and the importance of attracting foreign investment.

Minister Chen, who holds a master’s degree in law from National Taiwan University and a doctorate in law from National Cheng Chi University, served as Secretary-General of the Executive Yuan before taking her current position. She said that her legal background means she is likely to take a different approach from her predecessors heading the NDC, who were mainly economists. While affirming the importance of economic development, she said that her concept of “development” is broader, incorporating the various other factors that impact life in Taiwan.

The new minister expressed the wish to maintain frequent contact with AmCham Taipei as issues of mutual concern arise.

Leadership Meeting with House Foreign Affairs Committee Representatives

Over breakfast on Sept. 1 at Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, members of the AmCham Taipei leadership met with a delegation from the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee led by Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and also including Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, and Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR).

The members of Congress reiterated their support for continued strengthening of U.S.-Taiwan ties in the areas of both national security and economic cooperation.

Following a briefing by Chamber Chairman Albert Chang on the current business climate in Taiwan, Lin Kiat Yap of Micron gave a report on challenges facing the Taiwan semiconductor industry (a key part of the supply chain for many leading U.S. tech companies) and Wayne Chin of Bechtel provided a presentation on behalf of the Energy Committee and Infrastructure & Engineering Committee.

September 1, 2017 – Leadership Meeting with House Foreign Affairs Committee Representatives at Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel

 

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.”

Leadership Meeting with AIT Chairman James Moriarty

During his latest visit to Taiwan, the U.S.-based chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, Ambassador James Moriarty, exchanged views with members of the AmCham Taipei leadership today at a breakfast discussion. The two sides discussed the relationship between the United States and Taiwan, including economic ties, as well as regional issues.

AmCham leaders also briefed the AIT chairman on such subjects as the Chamber’s 2017 Business Climate Survey, difficulties for companies and employees caused by recent revisions in the Labor Standards Law, and prospective business opportunities arising from the government’s Asia·Silicon Valley plan to promote the digital economy.

Attending the meeting from AIT Taipei were Economic Section Chief Jeff Horwitz, Commercial Section Chief Ireas Cook, and Economic Section Deputy Chief Michael Pignatello. Representing AmCham were President Andrea Wu, Vice Chairman Daniel Tseng, Government Relations Committee Co-chair Paul Cassingham, AmCham Secretary and IP&L Committee Co-chair Vincent Shih, AmCham Governor Leo Seewald, AmCham Supervisor and Travel & Tourism Committee Co-chair Anita Chen, Retail Committee Co-chair Mark Chen, Sustainable Development Committee Co-chair Kenny Jeng, Senior Director and Taiwan Business TOPICS Editor-in-chief Don Shapiro, and Senior Director for Government & Public Affairs Amy Chang.

AmCham Holds Meetings with Members of Congress

Congressman David Schweikert (R-AZ), accompanied by his wife Joyce and research assistant Katherine Duveneck, paid a visit to AmCham Taipei on October 20 as part of a week-long stay in Taiwan. Although Schweikert has been a longtime supporter of strong U.S.-Taiwan relations, this was the first time for him to come to Taiwan.

Currently in his third term in Congress, Schweikert serves on the Financial Services Committee. His discussion with AmCham Senior Director Don Shapiro and Senior Director for Government and Public Affairs Amy Chang centered largely on trade and energy issues. The Congressman said he is a firm proponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but is unsure in the current political atmosphere in the United States whether the TPP will receive Congressional endorsement. He expressed regret that the major U.S. business organizations did not make a stronger early push for TPP, giving its opponents the opportunity to shape public opinion.

On energy, Schweikert said it is important to make optimum use of all forms of available energy, including nuclear as an efficient and non-polluting source. He said he hopes to encourage cooperation between Taiwan and Arizona companies for the developent of renewable energy resources here, especially solar.

Earlier in the month, Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) was in Taiwan, and Don Shapiro represented AmCham in attending a dinner held in his honor by Foreign Minister David Lee.

AmCham Meets with New AIT Chairman

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During his first visit to Taiwan in his new capacity as the U.S.-based chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Ambassador James Moriarty met over breakfast with representatives of AmCham Taipei and various of the Chamber’s committees and advocacy groups for a briefing on issues of concern to the U.S. business community in Taiwan. In remarks to the group, Moriarty cited the impressive changes in Taiwan since he was based here in the 1990s, especially the maturation of Taiwan’s democracy.

Also attending the meeting were AIT Deputy Director Robert Forden, who discussed the recent TIFA Council bilateral trade meeting in Washington, and representatives from AIT’s Economic and Commercial Sections.

The issues mentioned by the AmCham leaders included:

  • Technology: The importance of effective protection of propietary technology, continuing smooth cross-Strait interaction under ECFA, ensuring cybersecurity, and establishing a sound data management sysem within government.
  • Financial services: Tax reform, pension reform, and arrangements to permit domestic insurance companies to invest in infrastructure development to relieve pressure on the government budget.
  • Infrastructure: Electricity deregulation and changes in government procurement procedures to encourage more foreign investment in construction and engineering services.
  • Defense: Determining how foreign suppliers can support Taiwan’s planned efforts to build up the indigenous defense industry.
  • Retail: Protecting food safety without creating unnecessary regulatory burdens for manufacturers and importers.
  • Investment: Promoting transparency, consistency, and predictability in the investment approval proess.
  • Other: Encouraging more communication between U.S. and Taiwan regulatory bodies.

Ambassador Moriarty was chief of the AIT political section from 1995 to 1998. He later served as U.S. ambassador in Bangladesh and Nepal before retiring from the foreign service in 2011. As AIT chairman, he succeeds Raymond F. Burghardt, who held the position from 2006 until his recent retirement.

AmCham Makes Visits to Cabinet Ministers

An AmCham delegation led by Chairman Dan Silver meets with MOI Minister Yeh and his staff members.

An AmCham delegation led by Chairman Dan Silver meets with MOI Minister Yeh and his staff members.

In recent weeks, an AmCham Taipei delegation led by Chairman Dan Silver has called on two members of the Cabinet to exchange views on pertinent issues.

The first meeting was with Minister of Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong and members of his staff on September 26. The main topic was potential ways of enhancing Taiwan’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to increase the degree of transparency and public engagement in the process for making or revising government regulations. A former professor and vice dean at the National Taiwan University School of Law, Yeh has long had a keen interest in seeking ways to improve the rule-making process. The idea of creating an enhanced “Second Generation APA” has also been one of AmCham’s priority themes for the past two years, reflected in the annual Taiwan White Paper.

In the same spirit, the government of Premier Lin Chuan by executive order recently lengthened the time period for notice and comment on new regulations from 14 to 60 days, effective October 1. AmCham expressed its appreciation to Minister Yeh regarding this step, which the Chamber believes will lead to more effective regulations.

Also discussed was the Ministry of Interior’s ongoing efforts to review and modernize the rules governing non-government organizations (NGOs) in Taiwan.

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The second meeting, on October 17, was with newly appointed Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang, who has been designated as Taiwan’s first digital minister, with the mission of helping to create a more open government. Again, key topics were the expanded notice and comment period – and how to ensure that it is used by the private sector and government officials to optimum effectiveness – and the desirability of upgrading the existing APA.

Another subject was the new website join.gov.tw set up by the government earlier this year to enable members of the public to participate in the making of public policy by presenting and discussing proposals. Under Tang’s guidance, the site will be further refined and expanded in the months ahead.

Besides Dan Silver, other members of the delegation in both instances included AmCham President Andrea Wu, former chairman Paul Cassingham, Senior Director Don Shapiro, and Senior Director for Government and Public Affairs Amy Chang.

Congressional Staff Delegation Visits AmCham (October 13, 2016)

A 10-member delegation of U.S. Congressional staff called at the AmCham Taipei office on October 13 for a briefing and wide-ranging discussion of the Taiwan economy and U.S.-Taiwan relations.

Usually AmCham Taipei is visited by about eight such delegations each year. They are invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which arranges for a visit to the Chamber to be included in their schedule. “It’s like the Doorknock coming to us,” says AmCham Taipei President Andrea Wu. “It’s a great opportunity in between our trips to Washington to exchange views and emphasize the importance of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship for American business.”

Besides a briefing on AmCham Taipei’s activities and why Taiwan matters to the United States, the session included discussion of such topics as Taiwan’s regulation-making process, energy supply, healthcare system, and ambition to develop its biotech industry. Asked about the prospects for U.S. Congressional ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the visitors seemed agreed that TPP would eventually come into force, although the timing is currently impossible to predict.

The delegation included representatives from the following offices:

  • Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT),
  • Joe Manchin (D-WV),
  • Dick Durbin (D-IL),
  • Chris Coons (D-DE),
  • Steve Daines (R-MT);
  • Congressman Juan Vargas (D-CA);
  • the Office of the Speaker of the House,
  • the House Committee on Energy and Commerce,
  • the Senate Republican Conference,
  • the Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

They were received by AmCham Chairman Dan Silver, Senior Director Don Shapiro, Senior Director for Government and Public Affairs Amy Chang, and Taiwan Business Topics Associate Editor Tim Ferry.

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