Luncheon with the Kaohsiung Mayor

In an AmCham Taipei special luncheon at the Regent Taipei, Kaohsiung Mayor and Nationalist Party presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu highlighted some of the initiatives taking place in Kaohsiung and his intention to further develop Taiwan’s economy.

In his speech, Han noted that with the U.S.-China trade war heavily impacting the global economy, Taiwan needs to take this opportunity to negotiate bilateral and multilateral trade agreements with its trading partners. In particular, it is also a critical time for Taiwan to push for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the U.S.

Besides cooperating with trade allies, Han urged Taiwan to work in close collaboration with global enterprises to drive industrial development and economic growth in Taiwan. He said that some prospective foreign investors have been reluctant to commit to projects in Taiwan out of concern about future energy sufficiency. He suggested that Taiwan keep nuclear power as a viable option, as long as its safety is assured and the public supports the idea.

The mayor thanked AmCham Taipei for its longstanding support for Taiwan and continuous efforts to improve U.S.-Taiwan relations. He also praised the Chamber for providing valuable suggestions and recommendations on improving Taiwan’s business environment in the annual Taiwan White Paper. In closing, Han said that if he is elected, his government will closely examine the White Paper and work to make sure that appropriate regulatory policies are implemented.

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Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

Luncheon with the Minister of MOEA

The trade friction between the U.S. and China is causing many Taiwanese companies in China to move all or part of their operations back to Taiwan – and the Taiwan government is doing its utmost to mobilize resources to provide them with necessary assistance.

That was the key message in Economics Minister Shen Jong-Chin’s presentation to AmCham Taipei members at a Chamber luncheon meeting in the ballroom of the Regent Taipei on August 20.  Among the Minister’s key points:

  • The current situation presents a promising opportunity for Taiwan. Already the government has approved 111 investment cases from Taishang (the term for Taiwanese companies operating on the mainland) and more are coming. The government anticipates that more than 90,000 jobs will be created in Taiwan.
  • The Ministry of Economic Affairs has set up a one-stop service center under its InvesTaiwan office to ensure that interested companies receive rapid and efficient service. The government is seeking to help companies solve any problems arising from the “five shortages” of land, power, water, labor, and talent.
  • Currently land is not a big obstacle, as many of the returning companies had kept additional production facilities in Taiwan when they invested on the mainland. But it could become more of a concern if the number of returning companies rises considerably. The government is therefore preparing more industrial zones where land or factory buildings will be available on a rental basis.
  • Working through local banks, the government is also making loans available to companies at preferential rates to encourage their return or expansion in Taiwan.
  • The major sectors being affected are industrial clusters for notebook computers and other ICT products, bicycles, and auto parts. The domestic machinery industry is also receiving increased orders as a result of this trend.
  • Some of the Taishang departing China are choosing to relocate to Southeast Asian countries or India. MOEA is also using its contacts and experience to help companies moving to those areas.

Before the speech, Minister Shen also participated in a half-hour meeting to exchange ideas with representatives from several of AmCham’s industrial groups, including the Energy, Technology, and Infrastructure Committees, and the Digital Economy Taskforce.

A Panel Sharing Election Insights

Taiwanese voters will be casting their ballots next January 11 in what is widely considered to be the most consequential presidential election in Taiwan’s history. To help Chamber members better understand the implications of the election, AmCham Taipei will be organizing a series of events at which political analysts will present their views.

The first such event took place July 17 at a luncheon meeting at the Regent Taipei. AmCham President William Foreman moderated a panel discussion featuring Alexander Chieh-cheng Huang, Associate Professor at Tamkang University’s Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies; former AIT Director William A. Stanton; and Stephen Yates, CEO of DC International Advisory.

Among the key points emerging from the discussion:

  • The major issues deciding the election will be a combination of cross-Strait relations, the state of the economy, and various social issues.
  • President Tsai Ing-wen’s bid for reelection is benefiting from the hard line being taken by Beijing on such matters as the Hong Kong extradition law and the crackdown on Uighurs in Xinjiang. The PRC aggressiveness makes it harder for the KMT to defend the “One China” position of the 1992 consensus.
  • The incumbent generally enjoys a certain advantage in being able to attract media attention and launch policy initiatives. Also to Tsai’s advantage is that the current Taiwan-U.S. relationship is better than it has ever been.
  • KMT candidate Han Kuo-yu, the recently elected mayor of Kaohsiung, is highly charismatic and appeals to a segment of the population that is anti-elite and blames the establishment political leaders of the past for having failed to deliver.
  • If Mayor Ko Wen-je enters the race, he can likely count on support from many young people, even though his policy positions tend to be rather vague.
  • Tsai is expected to have the edge in a two-way race. Three-way competitions are much more complicated and difficult to call.

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.

Mayor Cheng Outlines Taoyuan’s Strengths as an Investment Site

In an Amcham Taipei special luncheon at the Regent Taipei, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan highlighted his city’s strongpoints as an investment location for Taiwanese businesses returning from China. He noted that many Taiwanese enterprises on the mainland, impacted by the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing, are considering changes in their business plans. What they ultimately decide to do will be shaped largely by the nature of their business.

Cheng made the case that Taoyuan is a particularly attractive area for two types of operations: R&D centers and logistics. He said that an R&D center in Taoyuan would cost just half as much as one in Taipei, but Taoyuan is close enough to Taipei for young engineers to feel comfortable living and working there. The presence of the Taoyuan International Airport and proximity to the Port of Taipei provide strong transportation advantages for logistics companies.

The mayor also outlined the efforts his administration is making to alleviate the “Five Shortages” currently Taiwan as a whole: land, water, power, professional talent, and labor. For example, he cited the seven new industrial parks under development and the city’s program to create a more favorable living environment for foreign talent.

From left to right: AmCham President William Foreman; Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan; AmCham Governor Paulus Mok, Chairman of Citibank; and Governor Daniel Tseng, President, Corning Display Technologies Taiwan.

Interested in attending our events? Join us at other upcoming events, click here.

Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

2019 Hsieh Nien Fan: A Night for Commemoration

AmCham Taipei’s 2019 Hsieh Nien Fan banquet, held April 10 at the Grand Hyatt Taipei, paid tribute to the Taiwan Relations Act on its 40th anniversary. The law, which has enabled U.S.-Taiwan relations to continue smoothly without formal diplomatic recognition, was signed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter on exactly the same date in 1979.

The banquet has been held annually since 1970 as a way to express AmCham’s thanks to the Taiwan government for its cooperation in the past year. This year’s event was attended by 682 AmCham members and guests, including 143 government officials.

The keynote speakers were President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Meale, with additional remarks by AmCham Chairman Leo Seewald (see the full remarks here) and American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen. Video messages on congratulations were shown from four U.S. Senators: Corey Gardner (R-CO), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Besides the President, the high-ranking Taiwanese officials in attendance included Secretary General of the National Security Council David Lee, Minister without Portfolio John Deng, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, Minister of the National Development Council Chen Mei-ling, Chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission Wellington Koo, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee, Minister of Justice Shawn Tsai, and several members of the Legislative Yuan.

The New York Times reported on President Tsai’s comments in her speech that Taiwan needs to continue diversifying Taiwan’s economy to prevent over-reliance on China. “We must make sure Taiwan’s economic and security position remains on the right track,” it quoted her as saying.

The President’s speech also stressed the importance of the government’s relationship with AmCham Taipei. “We will continue to work hand-in-hand to find ways to bring more jobs and investment to Taiwan,” she said.

Meale’s remarks cited the remarkably strong commercial relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan. “It is in the interest of the United States to have such an important trade and investment partner that is notable both as a democracy and as a well-run economy,” he told the audience.

In his comments, Christensen noted that Taiwan is the eleventh largest trading partner of the United states, and also “one of the key players in the high-tech global supply chain.”

2019 Hsieh Nien Fan – Toast

The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Peter Dernbach.

A host of generous sponsors helped make the event possible: Platinum Sponsor Citi; Gold Sponsors Corning, Franklin Templeton Investments, and Standard Chartered Bank; Wine & Liquor Sponsors Diageo and Sergio Valente; Silver Sponsors 3M, HSBC, JTI, and Micron; Bronze Sponsors Air Canada, Air Products, Bechtel, Dun & Bradstreet, GE, Philip Morris International, Semi, and Versum Materials; and General Sponsors Invisalign, Amgen, Grand Hyatt Taipei, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, P&G, and the Tobacco Institute of the Republic of China.

Chairman Leo Seewald delivers remarks commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act at AmCham’s Hsieh Nien Fan

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei held its 51st annual Hsieh Nien Fan banquet on April 10th in the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Taipei.

Opening the evening, AmCham Taipei Leo Seewald delivers remarks commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act. The act has special significance for the Chamber because the organization played a key role in drafting the legislation exactly 40 years ago.

A transcript of the chairman’s remarks is as follows:

President Tsai, Deputy Assistant Secretary Meale, AIT Director Christensen, Distinguished Guests, and Chamber Members:

Good evening! I’m delighted to welcome all of you to the 51st annual Hsieh Nien Fan of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei!

This year’s Hsieh Nien Fan is particularly significant because, as you have heard in the videos, it also coincides with the signing into law of the Taiwan Relations Act on exactly this date 40 years ago. I understand there is also party commemorating this event in Washington DC in just a few hours, so if any of you are looking for a good after party, you might be able to make it if you catch tonight’s flight out.

In the meantime, for those who do not know, the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) forms the basis of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship and has helped create stability for Taiwan to prosper. It is the legal foundation that has made possible four decades of ever-stronger ties in such areas as trade, investment and an extremely broad range of cultural, educational, and scientific cooperation.

1978 and 1979 was a defining period for the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan as the Chamber stepped up and played a key role assuring continuity by advocating for a stable, secure relationship between the US and Taiwan.  A bit of history… The initial draft TRA legislation was too vague, so the then-AmCham chairman, Robert Parker, made several trips to Washington where he testified before Congressional committees.  He called for a clear statement of American commitment to Taiwan’s stability, as well as assurances that the substance of the bilateral relationship would be maintained despite the change in form.

Among the many scholars and other experts who also testified, Mr. Parker – on behalf of AmCham – was the main voice of the business community, stressing the importance to American businesses of being able to operate in an environment of security and certainty. Thankfully, the final version of the TRA addressed those concerns.

During the same period, the termination of the U.S. diplomatic presence in Taiwan put in jeopardy the legal standing of numerous American community institutions – everything from the Taipei American School, the American Club and youth organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts as well as the English-language radio station (now famously known in Taiwan as ICRT)-

Can you imagine a Taiwan without A-foo’s taxi? And who would still be playing Air Supply? In any case, again AmCham stepped forward, taking the lead in ensuring new arrangements were made to preserve these institutions for future generations.

That period in 1979 was an example of AmCham stepping up to protect its members and the stability of Taiwan and was certainly one of AmCham’s finest hours… but it’s not the only example of the Chamber taking on big issues and playing an important part in Taiwan’s history.

The central theme for AmCham has always been (and will continue to be) the stability and prosperity of Taiwan.  We often make the point that the success of our members is inseparably tied to the success of Taiwan. Most of our members have been operating in Taiwan for more than 20 years- in fact, this year marks the 55th anniversary for Citibank, the 50th for 3M, 35th for HSBC, and 30th for both Microsoft and Cigna, as examples.

It is in this spirit that we cooperate with the Taiwan government to help suggest areas of improvement.  Last June, when we launched the 2018 Taiwan White Paper, we were very pleased to be able to announce that a record number of issues from the previous year’s had been resolved. This year, with a few months still left in the White Paper cycle (and before election fever grips the country) I hope we’ll again have a very productive outcome -but there’s still some work to do!

It is important to note that last year’s white paper success could not be achieved without the strong partnership the Chamber has built up with Taiwan government officials at all levels. Our Hsieh Nien Fan is our chance to say thank you to the many members of the Taiwan government that we’ve worked with over the past year – and to let you know how much we appreciate the excellent cooperation you’ve given us.

We also appreciate and thank the outstanding support we receive from our friends at AIT and the various U.S. government agencies in Washington.  Deputy Assistant Secretary Meale’s presence here tonight is a sign of that support. Thank you DAS Meale for making the trip-

Given our legacy and dedication, AmCham stands ready to offer our support for Taiwan through what now appears to be another period of dramatic change.  Supply chains are shifting, climate-change issues demand attention, and disruptive new technologies – everything from cloud computing, 3D printing to the digital economy– are rapidly transforming the way business is done. The companies AmCham represents are world leaders in driving innovation and as Taiwan confronts the challenges of this new technology-driven economy, the Taiwan government should know that it has a steadfast friend and supporter in the American Chamber of Commerce.

Finally, and most importantly, as the AmCham business climate survey points out, our members believe Taiwan has a bright future and we are all on the same side to make that happen!

With that thought, I would like to thank President Tsai, for joining us once again as our keynote speaker.  It is always a pleasure to have you with us and we appreciate the determination that you, Premier Su, and the other members of the Administration have shown in ensuring that Taiwan remains a vigorous part of the global economic community.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming her Excellency, President Tsai Ing-wen to the podium….

Takeways from the APCAC Business Summit

AmCham Taipei President William Foreman recently attended a two-day business summit in Hong Kong organized by the Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC).  The group represents AmChams across the region.

The summit is an annual event that attracts CEOs, diplomats, government officials and other key influencers. This year’s theme was: “The Future of U.S. Trade and Investment in Asia.”

Over the course of two days, the program was packed with keynote speeches and numerous panel discussions. Here are just a few key takeaways:

  • Don’t believe the headlines. The U.S. is not in retreat in the Asia-Pacific region. U.S. companies are still trading and investing here more than any other country.
  • American companies are still the key standard setters that promote openness, transparency, fair markets and growth driven by the private sector.
  • We’re not seeing the end of globalization. We’re just seeing it evolve.
  • China is catching up fast. It’s investment has quadrupled over the past five years. China has an advantage because it has a plan, a long-term vision. The U.S. needs one.
  • Developed nations are struggling to find a way to compete with China’s model of state-driven capitalism. Often, openness is a handicap when going up against China Inc.
  • Eventually, there will be some kind of U.S.-China trade deal. When that happens, the focus in the relationship will shift to the next big theme: technology.
  • Many of the headlines (and tweets) coming out of Washington are discouraging. But now it’s more important than ever to get engaged with AmCham to change the conversation. If you don’t, you’ll be even more disappointed.

Next year’s APCAC summit will be in Singapore. And, it will definitely be a must-attend event for the Chamber!

Micron Hosts AmCham Taipei Field Trip

A group of 24 AmCham Taipei members and Chamber staff took part in a field trip to the Taoyuan plant of Micron Technology on February 15. They heard an excellent briefing from Lin Kiat Yap, Chairman of Micron Technology Taiwan and Vice President of the Boise-Idaho based parent company, about the memory industry and Micron’s leading role in it. Then the visitors donned masks and “bunny suits” to tour the largest cleanroom (20,000 square meters) in the facility.

In his briefing, Yap outlined Micron’s growth from a four-partner startup in the basement of a dental clinic in Boise in 1978 to its position today as the world’s third largest memory company, with annual revenue of more than US$30 billion. The company has 34,000 employees worldwide and holds more than 40,000 patents.

Micron has the distinction of being the largest foreign investor in Taiwan. Besides the plant in Taoyuan’s Guishan, it also has facilities in the Central Taiwan Science Park in Taichung. The company has established a Center of Excellence in Taiwan to troubleshoot any production problems found in Micron plants around the world and devise solutions.

Interested in attending our events? Join us at other upcoming events, click here.

Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

Chairman Leo Seewald Announces Results of the 2019 Business Climate Survey

AmCham Taipei Chairman Leo Seewald presented the results of the Chamber’s 2019 Business Climate Survey at a news conference followed by a membership luncheon on January 23. More than 30 Taiwan media organizations came to the briefing, which was held at the Chamber’s Lincoln Room.

The online survey was conducted for AmCham by PwC Taiwan between November and December of 2018, with 179 top executives of AmCham’s member companies responding.

Chamber President William Foreman opened the event by explaining the significance of the Business Climate Survey and why the feedback from members is so important to the Chamber. He stressed that a large number of survey respondents are well-experienced, high-level executives from multinationals that are deeply invested in Taiwan for over twenty years. Taiwan’s economic development will reflect the success of multinationals operating in Taiwan.

The Chairman highlighted that the survey respondents were significantly less confident about Taiwan’s economic outlook compared to the previous year. Factors causing concern for global companies include the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute, the U.S. administration’s “American First” trade policy, pressure on Taiwan from China, and cyber-security threats. On a positive note, most companies are bullish about their own profitability and are confident about revenue growth over the next 12 months to 3 years.

Seewald, who is Chairman/Managing Director of BlackRock Investment Management (Taiwan) Limited, noted three key areas that required the government’s attention:

  • Government regulations and rules-making process: further reforms are needed to meet the needs of a knowledge-based economy. Results indicated modest improvement in satisfaction in regards to Taiwan’s regulatory environment when compared to the previous year. Survey-takers would like to see the government communicating more with businesses when new regulations and policies are passed.
  • Energy: sufficiency of future power supplies. Nearly 90% of businesses are worried about the adequacy of future power supplies; 73% concerned about voltage stability; and 70% concerned about electricity cost.
  • Labor policies: more flexibility is needed to meet companies’ needs. For more than half the companies, labor issues will be a major factor in whether they expand operations in Taiwan. Furthermore, about half the respondents said the latest amendments to Taiwan’s Labor Standards Act did not provide sufficient flexibility in the treatment of professional employees.

The presentation was repeated at a luncheon held at the Sherwood Taipei, which was attended by over 50 AmCham members and guests. See the full presentation below or download the complete report, click here.

2019 Business Climate Survey Presentation from AmCham Taipei