Big Changes and New Directions Mark AmCham’s 2020 AGM

Excitement was in the air at the 2020 AmCham Taipei Annual General Meeting, held at the Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel on November 17. As the Chamber’s signature year-end event, it would serve as the platform for announcing that AmCham Taipei would begin the formal process of becoming the more appropriately named American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan in January 2021. To commemorate this momentous occasion, President Tsai Ing-wen delivered the keynote speech.

Election Results

This year’s AGM drew around 230 members and their guests, and voting for the 2021 Board of Governors and Supervisors took place as members arrived. The six Governors voted in for two-year terms were Justin Chin of AstraZeneca Taiwan, Cynthia Chyn of Amazon Web Services, Paulus Mok of Citibank Taiwan, Terry Tsao of SEMI Taiwan, and Daniel Tseng of Corning Display Technologies Taiwan. They join 2020-2021 Governors CW Chin of Applied Materials Taiwan, Timothy Shields of Cigna Taiwan, Brian Sung of Cadence Design Systems Taiwan, Fupei Wang of Ogilvy Public Relations, Roger Yee of Raytheon Taiwan, and Angela Yu of Microsoft. See the election results details here.

Newly elected for one-year terms as Supervisors were Max Chen of Facebook Taiwan, Shelley Chia of Deloitte and Touche, and Seraphim Ma of Baker McKenzie.

Remarks by VIP Guest Speakers

In brief opening remarks as the luncheon meeting began, American Institute in Taiwan Director W. Brent Christensen emphasized that regardless of the results of the recent U.S. elections, Taiwan continues to enjoy broad, bipartisan support in Washington. He also commended President Tsai for prioritizing transparency and safety in Taiwan, and for creating a “safe, stable environment, which has allowed Taiwan’s businesses to flourish in the face of strong global headwinds that are constraining growth in so many other economies.”

In her keynote speech, President Tsai congratulated the Chamber for successfully moving to change its name to AmCham Taiwan, which she said is “a true reflection of its membership.” She said that she believes the organization will “play a crucial and significant role in the development of Taiwan’s partnerships in the future.” She also spoke of Taiwan’s success in containing COVID-19 and its ability to maintain positive economic growth throughout the pandemic without needing to resort to lockdowns.

Lastly, President Tsai acknowledged the great recent strides made in the U.S.-Taiwan relationship, noting Taiwan’s importance as the U.S.’ ninth largest trading partner and 11th largest export market. She also cited the visit to Taiwan in September by Keith Krach, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, and the resulting U.S.-Taiwan Economic Partnership Dialogue held between Taiwan officials and the State Department in Washington this month.

Tribute to Don Shapiro’s Retirement

Also of significance at this year’s event was Chairperson CW Chin’s announcement that Don Shapiro, AmCham Taipei Senior Director and Editor-in-Chief of its Taiwan Business TOPICS magazine, would be retiring from his full-time position at the end of the year, while continuing in an advisory capacity. Chin and AmCham President Leo Seewald thanked Shapiro for his invaluable contributions to the Chamber and presented him with a commemorative plaque.

Year in Review

AmCham President Leo Seewald and Chairperson CW Chin also summarized the Chamber’s achievements over the past year. View the full presentation below.

2020 Annual General Meeting from The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei

View the full photo gallery here.

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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.

Preparing for Taiwan’s Future Super-aged Society

The 2020 AmCham Taipei Longevity Forum 2.0 was held on November 11 at the Sherwood Hotel, drawing an audience of 90 members and their guests. The forum featured speakers and panelists from government, academia, and industry, allowing for a diverse range of viewpoints and an eye-opening discussion of the projected impact of Taiwan’s aging society and the potential solutions. AmCham was honored to gather key policy and opinion leaders in the same room to explore one of Taiwan’s most pressing issues.

The event’s keynote speech was delivered by Kao Shien-Quay, deputy minister of the National Development Council, who noted the urgency of addressing Taiwan’s rapidly aging population, the rate of which is on par with Singapore and South Korea. Moving forward, Kao said, the government has the responsibility to work together with private industry in applying digital solutions to the economic and social issues associated with an aging society.

A presentation by Distinguished Professor Wu Shiao-chi of National Yang-Ming University’s Institute of Health and Welfare Policy, suggested potential policy directions for coping with Taiwan’s aging society, including those related to the workforce and the urban environment.

Next, Wang Ying-wei, director general of the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) under the Ministry of Health and Welfare, discussed the high rate at which Taiwan’s population is aging and the consequences of this phenomenon for the whole of society. Both Wu and Wang pointed to the World Health Organization’s Active Aging framework as a possible way of counteracting the negative effects of an increased elderly population. WHO defines active aging as “the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.”

While travel restrictions due to COVID-19 prevented Aaron Jones, Cigna’s Head of Analytics for APAC, from attending in person, he addressed the audience virtually in a pre-recorded video. Jones highlighted the importance of data and analytics in responding to the needs of an aging society. He also noted Cigna’s role in utilizing augmented intelligence – the process of combining human experience with machine intelligence – to deliver affordable, predictable, and simple healthcare to its customers. Taiwanese Osteoporosis Association board director Tu Shih-der also delivered a speech on public-private partnerships for reducing the rate of osteoporosis in Taiwan.

This year’s Longevity Forum featured two panel discussions moderated by Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan and Acer Group founder Stan Shih, respectively. Panelists included the NDC’s Kao Shien-quay, HPA’s Wang Ying-wei, Academia Sinica researcher Yang Pan-chyr, Yang-ming University’s Wu Shao-chi, National Health Insurance Administration Medical Review and Pharmaceutical Benefits Division Head Tai Hseuh-yung, Amgen Taiwan General Manager Joyce Lee, and Cigna Taiwan Life Insurance General Manager and CEO Tim Shields. The topics discussed were how to achieve a healthy aging society through preventative screening and cross-industry cooperation, and how to use public-private partnerships and big data to create a more effective strategy in preparation for a super-aged society.

In closing remarks, AmCham Taipei President Leo Seewald said that given Taiwan’s success in handling the COVID-19 pandemic and its world-class healthcare system, the development of an effective, comprehensive approach to Taiwan’s longevity issues is an area where the island economy can really shine.

The forum’s platinum sponsor was Amgen. Cigna was the silver sponsor.

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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.

Minister Chen Shih-chung Speaks at AmCham Luncheon

Although Europe and the U.S. are experiencing a devastating second wave of COVID-19 cases, Taiwan recently marked 200 days without a local infection. This feat was no accident, and much credit can be given to the hard work of Taiwan’s public health authorities, notably the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) headed by Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung. The Taiwanese public has tuned in since late January to daily press briefings from Minister Chen and his colleagues at the CECC. He has since become a veritable celebrity in Taiwan, with memes of his likeness spread across the internet, heavy coverage in the local press, and an appearance on the cover of GQ Taiwan in September.

AmCham Taipei was therefore delighted and humbled to invite Minister Chen to speak at a special luncheon at the Grand Hyatt on October 30. During his speech, he stressed Taiwan’s experience combating SARS as a major factor in its preparedness for subsequent virus outbreaks. Yet he also noted the challenges of fighting COVID-19, whose symptoms are often less acute or consistent across patients. And while SARS was contained relatively quickly before it could spread much beyond Asia, the current coronavirus has seeped into every continent besides Antarctica and does not look likely to end before a vaccine is developed.

Minister Chen also noted that besides providing people with regular updates on the status of the pandemic in Taiwan, his team’s daily press briefings were successful in another way: dispelling mis/disinformation. After Taiwan experienced an initial outbreak of COVID-19 in the early months of 2020, misinformation regarding masks and other necessities, as well as more sinister disinformation campaigns about infection numbers and death rates, began to proliferate online. In each case, the CECC was able to quickly counter the false claims and keep the public correctly informed.

At the end of his speech, Minister Chen answered several questions from the audience, the largest gathered since AmCham began its Meet the Minister series this year. The Chamber is incredibly grateful to Minister Chen and his colleagues at the Ministry of Health and Welfare for their immense efforts in keeping Taiwan’s public safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.

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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.

Minister John Deng Addresses AmCham Luncheon

AmCham Taipei was honored to invite Minister without Portfolio John Deng, one of the Taiwan government’s chief experts on international trade, to speak on U.S.-Taiwan economic and trade relations at a special luncheon held in the Mandarin Oriental’s Grand Ballroom on October 22. Minister Deng previously served as chief representative at the Office of Trade Negotiations (2007-2008) and as minister of economic affairs (2014-2016). The Chamber was therefore delighted to have him share his insights on the current U.S.-Taiwan relationship, as well as on the prospects for a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) between the two partners.

Deng stressed the strong and stable nature of trade and investment between Taiwan and the U.S. Taiwan’s exports to the U.S. rose by 7.1% between January and September this year, despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also remarked that the economies of Taiwan and the U.S. – particularly in the areas of semiconductors and IC products – are highly complementary, making them natural trade partners.

No relationship is without its challenges, however. Although President Tsai Ing-wen removed a longstanding trade barrier when she announced in August that restrictions on the import of certain types of U.S. beef and pork would be eased starting next year, the move has met with some public criticism. In particular, the lack of response from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative has left some questioning the value of ending the import restrictions. The USTR’s focus on implementing the phase one trade deal with China may have been a factor in the agency’s silence, Deng noted.

Nevertheless, many positive signs have been coming from Washington recently. Deng highlighted evidence of bipartisan Congressional support for a U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement, including a joint letter signed by 161 U.S. Representatives and another signed by 50 Senators calling on the USTR to begin negotiations for a BTA with Taiwan. And the recent high-level visits to Taiwan by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and that of Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith J. Krach indicate significant progress in the U.S.-Taiwan relationship.

These developments can serve as a solid foundation for future relations, regardless of the result of the U.S. presidential election in November, Deng concluded.

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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.

A Virtual Trip Around the World – at the American Ball

AmCham Taipei’s 2020 American Ball was an evening of glitz and glamor as nearly 300 members and their guests arrived at the Grand Hyatt Taipei dressed in dashing tuxedos and elegant evening gowns. While the COVID-19 pandemic has severely restricted international travel, the theme of this year’s ball – Fly Me to the World – aimed to bring the world to attendees. The event featured a world-class meal, international performances, and dance-worthy sounds from around the globe.

View the full photo gallery here

As guests began to trickle in, they made their way from the photo stand in the hotel’s lobby to the registration area outside the Grand Ballroom on the third floor. There they were treated to an eye-catching display of duty-free products supplied by Ever Rich, including high-value Taiwanese tea sets, as well as other local snacks and assorted goods. Those wishing to further memorialize their attendance at this premier event had the chance to strike a pose at two photo stations upstairs.

2020 American Ball – AmCham x Ever Rich

The evening’s festivities kicked off with a lively dance performance, transporting the audience to France and Spain with traditional songs and beautiful costumes. It was a hard act to follow, but Master of Ceremonies Roger Yee rose to the occasion, eliciting laughs and applause from guests and putting everyone at ease. He was joined onstage by AmCham Taipei Chairperson CW Chin and President Leo Seewald, and the three raised a toast on behalf of the host organizations.

2020 American Ball – Dance Performers

As the night continued, guests were treated to a sumptuous intercontinental meal, whose courses included Spanish-style smoked halibut, pineapple sorbet with coconut crumble for lovers of Hawaii, Netherlands-style roasted U.S. beef tenderloin, and a coffee chocolate bonbon representing Italy. It was the kind of feast that lets you savor the world without ever needing to leave the dinner table. To complement this delicious spread, bottles of Robert Mondavi Winery Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay were provided by drinks sponsor Sergio Valente, while whisky drinkers enjoyed glasses of Johnnie Walker Black Label Sherry Finish from Diageo.

Live music for the American Ball was provided by Sherwyne Pereira and his band MODA, while local DJ Rick Kraft spun a range of contemporary jams and classic tunes, getting people in the dancing spirit. Those who still had room after dinner could take a break from the dancefloor for a late-night snack of pulled pork sandwiches and Spanish churros. Meanwhile, free-flow refreshments were available at the bar throughout the night.

2020 American Ball – Dance Floor

The 2020 American Ball was made possible by the generosity of a number of sponsoring organizations. These included Grand Prize Sponsor Samsung; Wine & Liquor Sponsors Diageo and Sergio Valente; Gold Sponsors Amgen, Grand Hyatt Taipei, and HSBC; Décor Sponsor Merck; and Silver Sponsors Corning, The Rehfeldt Group, and GSK.

The party featured raffle drawings with attractive prizes throughout the night. The grand prize, from Samsung, was a 65” QLED 4K television. Other prize sponsors included the Grand Hyatt Taipei, Amba Taipei Songshan, CÉ LA VI Taipei, eslite hotel, Everrich, Hotel Eclat Taipei, Hotel Indigo Taipei North, Hotel Royal Group, Howard Plaza Hotel Taipei, Madison Taipei, Mandarin Oriental Taipei, Mellow Fields Taipei, Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, The Landis Taipei, The One, The Place Taipei, Regent Taipei, Sherwood Taipei, Westin Tashee Resort Taoyuan, and W Taipei.

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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.

AmCham Taipei Celebrates 69 Years of Outstanding Service and Leadership

On September 17, AmCham Taipei commemorated its 69th anniversary with an evening celebration at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Over 100 guests, including members new and longstanding, dined on the hotel’s delicious international cuisine, caught up with peers and friends, and raised a toast to the Chamber’s more than six decades of outstanding service to the international business community. The event was sponsored by SGS and the Invest Taipei Office, and drinks were provided by Diageo.

To kick off the evening, AmCham Taipei Chairperson C.W. Chin gave a short speech describing the Chamber’s dedication to further improving the business environment for its members and to strengthening the economic relationship between Taiwan and the U.S. Leo Seewald, president of the Chamber, then announced that AmCham Taipei is in the process of undergoing a name change – to the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan – to better reflect the organization’s scope and responsibility. AmCham’s membership encompasses the whole of Taiwan, Seewald noted, and in terms of its advocacy efforts, it works mostly with the central government on issues of regulatory policy.

Huang Shan-Shan, deputy mayor of Taipei city government, briefly addressed the guests, emphasizing the work of the Invest Taipei Office. ITO is a one-stop platform established by the city’s Department of Economic Development to assist domestic and overseas companies and entrepreneurs by providing them with knowledge and understanding of Taipei’s business environment, as well as of related policies and legislation.

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.

AmCham and CNAIC Sign Joint Statement on Bilateral Trade Agreement

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei and the Chinese National Association of Industry & Commerce (CNAIC) have issued a joint statement calling on the governments of the U.S. and Taiwan to begin negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement. The agreement was signed September 9 by AmCham Taipei Chairman CW Chin and CNAIC Chairman Lin Por-fong at a ceremony at the Palais de Chine Hotel. It is the first collaborative effort between the two organizations, which represent many of the largest local and international enterprises operating in Taiwan.

The statement acknowledges the importance of the U.S. and Taiwan to each other in terms of two-way trade, which totaled nearly US$43 billion for the first half of 2020. In addition, the two trading partners share a commitment to the principles of fair, transparent, and mutually beneficial trade relations, as well as to upholding democracy and the rule of law, protection of intellectual property, and maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Taiwan is thus an ideal candidate for a BTA.

Speaking prior to the signing of the joint statement, Chin cited the significance of a U.S.-Taiwan BTA both to the Chamber’s mission and to Taiwan’s economy more broadly. Noting that 2020 marks AmCham’s 69th anniversary, he said that “what’s good for the people of Taiwan is good for our more than 500 member companies.”

Also attending the ceremony was Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua, who stressed the excellent state of U.S.-Taiwan economic relations, as well as the highly favorable outlook for future investment and bilateral cooperation.

Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua Speaks at AmCham Luncheon

Over 100 AmCham Taipei members attended a special luncheon with recently appointed Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua at the Regent Taipei on August 4. Speaking to the attendees, Minister Wang described the challenges to businesses and the economy posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s tightening grip on Hong Kong, the restructuring of global supply chains, and the U.S.-China trade dispute. However, she also highlighted the new opportunities these developments have opened up for Taiwan and its partners, particularly the U.S.

“In light of the pandemic, Taiwanese businesses have had to make big changes to stay afloat. So, it’s not just Taiwan’s government that has been busy lately!” Minister Wang said. Given the government’s adept handling of the virus within its borders, though, she pointed out that of all the OECD countries, Taiwan’s economy suffered the smallest impact in Q2 this year – negative growth of less than 1%. That’s of course not to say that certain industries, such as petrochemicals and real estate, haven’t been more severely affected.

Wang went on to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on tech supply chains which had already begun being reconfigured due to trade tensions between the U.S. and China. The pandemic has accelerated the trend of decoupling, and shifted the focus from long, complex supply chains to ones that are shorter and more secure, she said. Taiwan’s government, seeing the need to act, attracted over US$36.3 billion in investment through three programs geared toward overseas Taiwanese businesses, domestic corporations, and small- and medium-sized enterprises. These efforts have led to the creation of over 90,000 jobs.

Looking ahead, Wang noted the opportunities for Taiwan to deepen its economic partnership with the U.S. She spoke of Taiwan’s attractiveness as a destination for investment by U.S. businesses, emphasizing its strengths in terms of hardware – such as its robust OEM capabilities – and for software, particularly its sizable pool of highly-trained talent. Already, large tech firms such as Google have taken an interest in the advantages Taiwan affords, pledging to collaborate with Taiwan’s government on training AI talent and turning Taiwan into the largest hardware R&D and data center in the Asia-Pacific. And in terms of supply chains, Wang said that Taiwan has become a great source of components for U.S. companies like Tesla; products made by Taiwanese suppliers account for 75% of the company’s key components for its cars.

Wang said that “countries the world over are starting to realize that Taiwan is a reliable partner.” She noted that Taiwan and the U.S. hold shared democratic values, and that Taiwan’s support for an open and fair trade system and complementarity with U.S. industries make it one of the best partners for the U.S. in Asia, and an ideal candidate for a bilateral trade agreement between the two.

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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.

A Belated but Rousing Hsien Nien Fan

AmCham Taipei’s 2020 Hsieh Nien Fan banquet was held successfully at the Grand Hyatt Taipei on August 25, despite a long postponement from the original March schedule due to the disruptions of COVID-19. Under the circumstances, this year’s celebration was especially meaningful, bringing together nearly 700 AmCham members and guests, including more than 130 government officials.

Attending the banquet for the fourth time – and the first since her inauguration for a second term, President Tsai Ing-wen delivered the keynote speech. AmCham Chairperson CW Chin (see the full text and video here) and American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen made additional remarks.

Chin opened the ceremony by expressing his thanks to the Taiwan government for the support and cooperation given the Chamber in the past year. He especially praised the administration for its excellent performance in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

In her speech, President Tsai stated that the partnership between Taiwan and the U.S. was made even stronger in the face of the combined challenges from the pandemic and security concerns. That cooperation was exemplified by the recent signing of an MoU on health cooperation during the visit of U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. Tsai urged that the bilateral relationship be further deepened by entering into negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement. She emphasized that the Taiwan government is “committed to securing a robust investment environment to the benefit of us all.”

AIT Director Christensen commended Taiwan’s progress in advancing shared political, economic, and international values of the U.S. and Taiwan during the challenging times of COVID-19. “It has been our pleasure to work closely with Taiwan to share the Taiwan Model with both U.S. institutions and countries around the world,” he said.

Besides the President, high-ranking Taiwanese officials that attended included Secretary General of the Presidential Office David Lee, Secretary-General of the  National Security Council Wellington Koo, Vice Premier Shen Jong-chin, Minister without Portfolio John Deng, Minister of the National Development Council Kung Min-hsin, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua, Chairperson of the Financial Supervisory Commission Huang Tien-mu, Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang, Minister of Finance Su Jain-rong, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, Chairperson of National Communications Council Chen Yaw-shyang, and Taoyuan City Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan. This event was also joined by several members of the Legislative Yuan and Taipei City Council.

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 Products, Amgen, Baker McKenzie, Bechtel, Dun & Bradstreet, GE, Merck, Philip Morris Taiwan, and Semi; and General Sponsors Airbnb, Grand Hyatt Taipei, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, P&G, and the Tobacco Institute of the Republic of China.

Remarks by Chairperson CW Chin at the 52nd Annual Hsieh Nien Fan

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei held its 52nd annual Hsieh Nien Fan banquet on August 25 in the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Taipei.

A transcript of the chairperson’s remarks is as follows (as prepared for delivery):

President Tsai, AIT Director Christensen, Distinguished Guests, and Chamber Members:

Good evening and welcome to the 52nd annual Hsieh Nien Fan of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei!

As you are undoubtedly aware, we are gathering for this event a bit late this year. It was originally scheduled for March as usual…before COVID-19 rudely intervened and disrupted our plans. But as a result of this year’s special circumstances and the change in timing, I believe it’s fair to say that the Hsieh Nien Fan this year has become even more meaningful than ever.

After all, the main purpose of this event is for AmCham and its member companies to express our thanks to our counterparts in the Taiwan government for the support and cooperation they have given the Chamber in the previous year. Normally that cooperation means the access that officials have granted us and the progress that has been made in resolving White Paper issues. This year, those considerations are still relevant – and we wound up with an excellent record in tackling our committees’ White Paper concerns.

But during a period of catastrophic pandemic that has put peoples’ lives and health at risk and wreaked havoc on economies around the world, we have something much more important to express our gratitude to the Taiwan government for. Thank you, President Tsai and members of your administration, for keeping us and our families and our employees safe and healthy over the difficult past half year. The competence and efficiency that Taiwan has demonstrated in combating the coronavirus has won it the respect and admiration of people all over the globe. As integral members of this community, we are proud that Taiwan has been a model of transparency and good governance internationally.

So even more than usual, our gathering tonight for Hsieh Nien Fan is an act of celebration, and we appreciate that so many of our friends in the Taiwan government were able to join us for this happy occasion. In fact, I am told there might be enough cabinet ministers in the room tonight to make a quorum for a cabinet meeting.

Although time constraints prevent me from recognizing each one of our government guests individually, I want them to know how much we value their presence tonight and the good work they are doing all year long. But considering our theme of gratitude for the able handling of the pandemic, I would like to recognize the attendance of one cabinet minister in particular, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung. He has proved to be not only a highly knowledgeable and capable healthcare professional, but also a skilled communicator who has been a calming influence on the public during a period of challenge. You might say he has been Taiwan’s Dr. Fauci…but with more support from his president.

That brings me to another important aspect of the Hsieh Nien Fan banquet –celebration of the strong relationship between the United States and Taiwan. In the past year, we have heard both U.S. and Taiwan official say that those relations currently are the best they have ever been. There is plenty of evidence to support that statement, including the recent visit of Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, the highest-ranking U.S. official to come to Taiwan in many decades.

In addition, Congress has passed several pieces of legislation in support of Taiwan, some significant arms deals have been concluded, and trade and investment levels in both directions has been strong. In the first half of this year, Taiwan moved up from 10th to 9th place among American trading partners, and during at least one month it was number 8.

Given that warm relationship and large volume of trade, as well as Taiwan’s economic and strategic importance in this part of the world, it makes perfect sense for the two sides to enter into negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement. AmCham plans to make that goal one of its priority objectives for the coming year.

Before concluding, I would like to mention that AmCham joined the people of Taiwan in mourning the recent passing of President Lee Teng-hui and honoring his legacy of promoting democratic values in Taiwan. President Lee was the first head of government in Taiwan to give the keynote speech at Hsieh Nien Fan. That was in the year 2000. He established a tradition that has annually been followed by each president since then – tonight by President Tsai Ing-wen as she has done each year of her presidency.

It is now my honor to invite the President to the podium. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming President Tsai Ing-wen….