Chairman C.W. Chin Announces Results of the 2020 Business Climate Survey

The results of AmCham Taipei’s 2020 Business Climate Survey were presented by Chamber Chairman C.W. Chin at a news conference held in the Chamber’s Lincoln Room on March 4. Over 30 local and international media organizations attended the briefing, which was followed by a special membership luncheon.

Compared with the 2019 survey results, a higher percentage of companies this year expressed optimism regarding Taiwan’s economic performance over the next 12 months, as well as the next three years. Although the COVID-19 outbreak led to a reduced proportion of positive responses in the latter part of the survey period, confidence about future economic growth and business prospects remained high overall.


In addition, C.W. Chin emphasized that while respondents in the 2019 BCS were worried about the uncertainty caused by the U.S.-China trade dispute, almost half of companies surveyed this year viewed the tensions as having a positive effect on their business in Taiwan. Only 10.75% responded that the dispute has had a large impact on their business.

Chin said that a few major issues continue to cause concern among the Chamber’s members. Chief among these are Taiwan’s future energy supply, including power supply sufficiency, voltage stability, and the cost of electricity; labor policies on working hours and overtime; and the regulatory environment.

Furthermore, respondents highlighted the importance of bilateral trade and investment agreements between Taiwan and the U.S. to their business, and urged the early resumption of talks to resolve outstanding trade and investment issues between the two sides.

Speaking with reporters after the presentation, C.W. Chin praised Taiwan’s disease prevention efforts in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, which may have reassured some survey-takers. He also spoke in positive terms about the U.S. Federal Reserve’s recent emergency interest rate cut, noting that since most of the Chamber’s members are U.S. companies, reducing the cost of capital by lowering interest rates will help them through this crisis.

The 2020 Business Climate Survey was conducted between January and February this year. Top executives of 391 member companies completed the survey, a response rate of 50.3%.

Technical guidance for the survey was provided by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy.

See the full presentation below or download the complete report, click here.

The Novel Coronavirus & Business in Taiwan: What You Should Know

This article by legal experts will appear in the March issue of Taiwan Business TOPICS and is being posted online early because of its timely importance.


The novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV brings numerous potential and actual legal risks, ranging from the supply chain to human resource matters. Following the declaration by the World Health Organization (where Taiwan unfortunately has neither membership nor observer status) of a public health emergency at the end of January, businesses need to take precautions regarding affected Chinese suppliers, international travel, trade shows, and potential force-majeure issues. Management will also need to grapple with such other issues as employees in Taiwan working from home and factors that need to be taken into account regarding employee travel to China.

So far only a small number of cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Taiwan, so the direct risk can be considered relatively low. Nevertheless, the Taiwan government is among those that have taken a number of preventive measures. Starting February 6, entry restrictions have been applied to travelers who have been to China, as well as Hong Kong and Macau, within the past 14 days (this also applies to those who have transited through affected areas).

Furthermore, the government extended the winter holiday for all public schools (with most private schools following suit) until February 25. As conditions develop, local and national governments may well increase their efforts to contain this outbreak.

Employment issues

Employers in Taiwan have a general obligation to take care of their employees, as outlined in the Labor Standards Act and other work-related rules. This obligation includes preventing and mitigating any health risks employees may face in the course of their work, as well as providing them with a safe working environment. If an employer fails in this duty, it may face liability for any damages incurred by the employee.

In order to ensure the safety of their employees in connection with the outbreak, employers should take appropriate measures to reduce the level of risk of infection. These may include:

  • Adopting company-wide policies to prevent the spread of infection, including increasing employee awareness of best hygiene practices and disseminating accurate information about the virus.
  • Limiting business travel, especially to affected areas.
  • Ensuring that sick employees stay at home
  • Providing sanitary products, such as hand sanitizers, alcohol sprays, and disinfectant wipes.

It is important to remember that the preventive measures taken by employers may infringe on the rights of their employees, especially with regard to work and privacy. Careful consideration must therefore be given to employee rights, weighing potential measures against infection risk levels and alternative approaches. For example, subjecting employees to mandatory temperature checks may be a suitable measure if the infection risk level warrants. However, collecting an employee’s temperature and other health data infringes upon privacy rights and may only be done in compliance with the Personal Data Protection Act.

With regard to business trips, employers should also consider employee health and safety as the top priority. According to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Labor, employers should avoid assigning employees to travel to China during this period unless absolutely necessary. Employers are also encouraged to ask employees currently working in China to return to Taiwan. In consultation with employees, employers should devise alternative means of fulfilling job functions, such as working remotely via video conferencing and e-mail. If employers force employees to work in or travel to China, it may be deemed a violation of employee rights. The employee may be entitled to terminate the employment agreement and receive severance pay.

If it is still necessary to assign employees to work in China, employers should first assess the employees’ health status. In particular, they should avoid assigning employees with underlying health conditions, such as chronic lung disorders (including asthma) and cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, employers should educate and train the employees regarding infection-prevention practices, such as personal hygiene and health monitoring, and provide such equipment as masks and personal disinfection products.

Additionally, they should arrange for temperature measurements to be taken at the workplace in China and ensure that the work area is properly cleaned, disinfected, and ventilated. The guidelines state that if employers fail in these duties, employees have the right to refuse assignments to China.

Overtime demands

Companies producing medical equipment, such as masks and disinfectant agents, have been faced with a sudden, drastic increase in demand. Similarly, logistics companies and distributors are being asked to facilitate the immediate supply and delivery of these necessary products. As a result, certain employees are having to work extended overtime. The Ministry of Labor has issued an interpretation letter (No. 1090130090) regarding overtime work during the coronavirus outbreak.

Article 32.4 of the Labor Standards Act states that “due to the occurrence of an act of God, an accident, or an unexpected event,” an employer may extend the working hours beyond the regular working time.

This article applies to overtime work on regular working days, as well as on rest days. If employers require employees to work overtime under this article, employers must calculate and pay the accrued overtime wage according to Article 24 of the Labor Standards Act. Overtime accrued under Article 32.4 is not subject to the 12-hour daily limit on work, nor is it subject to the monthly maximum of 46 overtime working hours.

However, employers must notify the labor union within 24 hours of the beginning of the extension. If there is no labor union, they must instead report to the local competent authority for their records. Subsequent to the overtime, the employer must offer employees suitable time off.

According to Article 40 of the Labor Standards Act, “An employer may require workers to suspend all leaves of absence referred to in Articles 36 to 38, if an act of God, accident or unexpected event requires continuance of work; provided, however, that the worker concerned shall receive wages at double the regular rate for work during the suspended leave, and then also be granted leave to make up for the suspended leave of absence.” Further, “the employer shall, within 24 hours after the end of the suspended leave of absence, file a report stating the details and reasons with the local competent authorities for their records and approval of the suspension.”

The provisions in this article apply to national holidays as well as applications for annual paid leave or regular leave. In case of an “act of God, accident, or unexpected event,” employers may suspend employees’ leave and require them to continue with their tasks. In this event, employers do not have to adhere to the principle that employees shall not work for more than six consecutive days. Also, overtime accrued under Article 40 is not subject to the 12-hour daily limit on work, nor is it subject to the monthly maximum of 46 overtime working hours.

However, the employer shall, within 24 hours after the end of the suspended leave of absence, file a report stating the details and reasons with the local competent authorities for their records and approval of the suspension. Employees shall receive wages at double the regular rate for work during the suspended leave, and shall later be granted time off to make up for the suspended leave of absence.

Quarantined employees

Employees returning to Taiwan may be officially quarantined in a medical institution or asked to isolate themselves for various reasons, such as previous travel to areas affected by the Wuhan virus, showing symptoms when passing through airport health screening, or past contact with individuals reported as possibly infected with the coronavirus.

Being quarantined is legally considered as equivalent to being on sick leave, including all legal protections and rights afforded to the employee. The quarantine notice issued by the responsible authorities in such cases serves as the medical certificate. In case of self-quarantine, returning employees will be asked to stay at home for 14 days to minimize contact with other individuals. During this period, the employees are allowed to work at home but should not leave their residence or designated location. They are also not allowed to use public transportation or leave the country. Self-quarantined workers can expect to receive daily calls from local government officials checking on their health.

Businesses may consider various options for the legal structuring of this absence from work. These may include treating it as paid sick leave, unpaid leave, or any other mutually agreed upon structuring that does not violate the Labor Standards Act.

It is important to note that the government in Taiwan is imposing fines of up to NT$300,000 (about US$10,000) on individuals who violate quarantine regulations.

As the government has extended the winter break for schools until February 25, parents may have the unforeseen need to organize childcare on short notice during this period of time. The government has directed that businesses must accommodate employee needs for time off due to this extended school holiday. But whether or not payment is granted for this duration has been left up to the individual employment relationship and highly depends on the governing contract. In the absence of an applicable clause in the contract, one option is taking unpaid leave.

In light of the quarantine measures and the possibility of increased infections, businesses may consider asking employees to work remotely, which can be an effective measure to reduce the spread of disease. However, certain jobs must be performed on-site. In this case, businesses might consider putting employees on fully or partially paid, or even unpaid, leave.

However, employees generally have a right to work, even if they are granted pay for staying home. Therefore, whether or not a business can force employees to go on leave – and under what conditions – depends on the nature of the work, the level of risk at the time, and the governing work contract.

Assessing the risks

With over 60 million people already under lockdown in China, a major question for businesses is the integrity and stability of their business flow. There is a high probability that China will continue to expand the area governed by the lockdown until the coronavirus has been sufficiently contained. Additionally, over the coming months businesses will likely be faced with further control measures implemented by the government.

The following case demonstrates just how far-reaching and complex the consequences of these measures may be. A company based in Taiwan sends an employee to China to perform necessary maintenance on a production site. Afterward, the same employee is needed by a client in the U.S. to repair a production robot. Although the trip to China was not to a strongly affected region, the employee is barred from entering the U.S., and is therefore unable to repair the robot, leading to a financial loss for the client.

Businesses therefore need to prepare for various eventualities. The first step is to take a close look at their business and identify risks that could cause disruptions. Businesses operating in fields with strict deadlines or high dependency on migrant workers, such as construction companies, will find themselves at a higher risk.

Examples of current and future risks may include:

  • Supply chains affected by governmental lockdown measures.
  • External service providers prevented from providing timely service.
  • Government-imposed travel restrictions.
  • Import/export restrictions affecting purchase agreements.
  • Customers backing out of purchase agreements.
  • Workforce shortages due to new entry restrictions.

Navigating the current situation will be a continuous and evolving process with a multitude of different factors that may adversely affect business continuity. Businesses may find that simple preparation – such as identifying alternative suppliers outside the immediate area of risk or opening lines of communication with clients and suppliers regarding the outbreak – goes a long way in avoiding problems.

Open communication with all stakeholders is recommended. Approaching problems together with partners early and head-on may allow businesses to identify practical solutions that would otherwise not be available or obvious. The dialogue should also include prevention measures already taken or that should still be taken to ensure the safety of all employees working in at-risk areas.

In case the above-mentioned efforts fail, the fundamental question for businesses will be whether they, their suppliers, or their clients are still required to fulfill their contractual obligations under these new circumstances – or if they may be liable for damages due to breach of contract. Businesses will need to analyze their at-risk contractual relationships and determine whether they or their contractual partners have access to any legal remedies.

Force majeure in contracts

The most obvious legal remedy may be force majeure. Such contractual clauses allow the suspension or even discharge of mutual contractual obligations based on the occurrence of a disruptive event over which the affected party has no control and was not reasonably able to prepare for. Whether a party is able to successfully invoke force majeure will depend to a great extent on the individual clause’s wording, as well as the governing law’s understanding of force majeure.

Normally, the invoking of a force majeure clause in a contract involves drastic circumstances. The effects of using it may terrify the parties if the current investment and potential losses are huge, yet in other situations the invocation of force majeure comes as a relief to all parties.

In determining if the outbreak constitutes a force majeure event and if the type of disruption is covered, vital questions will be whether the invoking party could have reasonably prepared for the event and what rights the parties receive from the contractual clause.

As an example of the difficulties businesses face when establishing force majeure, consider a European supplier tasked with installing equipment at a Taiwan production site in China. Due to governmental warnings about travel to China, the supplier decides they cannot justify the risk to their employees and therefore refuses to perform the installation. Is the foreign government’s travel warning sufficient for invoking force majeure?

Chinese authorities have started issuing force majeure certificates. Although these certificates may be required by individual contract clauses, the issuance of such a certificate is usually not binding in the courts. There have also been reports of cases where large corporations rejected their business partners’ invocation of force majeure. When courts have to decide whether this outbreak constitutes a force majeure event, such certificates can play an important role in establishing the extraordinary nature of the outbreak. But they will only be one of a multitude of factors. Whether or not force majeure can be invoked does not depend only on the event itself; perhaps even more important is the event’s actual impact on the invoking party.

If a contract does not include a relevant force majeure clause, the governing law will be decisive in regard to legal remedies, in some cases providing either its own form of force majeure or possible alternatives. Parties may find that they are able to invoke established legal institutions such as “unforeseen changes” (clausula rebus sic stantibus) or the similar doctrine offrustration” in English law. These general legal instruments may afford parties the same or similar rights as do force majeure clauses.

If a party to a breach of contract dispute lacks access to any legal remedy, the question may become one of damages and liability. Businesses should remember that depending on the situation, they may have the legal duty to mitigate damages as far as is reasonably possible – for example, by making an effort to find suitable alternative purchasers for perishable goods.

Larger business operations usually have insurance that covers business liabilities. In case a business finds itself liable for damages, it will have to determine whether this specific case is covered by an insurance policy.

At this point, the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus on a business trip to Taiwan is low and travel to Taiwan is considered safe. However, it is important for businesses to keep Taiwanese travel restrictions in mind when organizing trips. Depending on their previous travel, employees may be denied entry into Taiwan upon arrival or may be asked to self-quarantine at their residence for 14 days. Restrictions also apply to travelers who merely had a layover at an airport in an affected area. Business travelers should therefore book direct flights whenever possible and check the official status of coronavirus-related entry restrictions before departure, as the rules may change at any time.

Despite the current low risk of contracting the Wuhan virus in Taiwan, other countries may also implement measures impacting people with Taiwan travel history. Besides considering Taiwan’s entry restrictions, travelers therefore also need to check on the regulations of their own country – as well as other countries they will be visiting – prior to departure.


  • John Eastwood and Heather Hsiao are partners at Eiger, the Taipei-based law firm. Alice Chen is a paralegal at Eiger and David Rosenthal is a trainee at the firm.

Mayor Hou Welcomes Investment to New Taipei City

New Taipei City Mayor Hou Yu-ih on February 7 outlined his plans and vision for the city at an AmCham Taipei luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Taipei.

Speaking in Mandarin, Hou encouraged AmCham member companies to invest in New Taipei, emphasizing that Taiwan’s most populous city in Taiwan has been developing an ever more sustainable environment.

He highlighted five major projects that his administration has been working to improve the city’s infrastructure:

  • Making the “Three Axes” – the Xinban Special District, Xinzhuang Fuduxin, and Sanchong District (新板特區、副都心及三重第二行政中心等三大軸心) – the center of the greater Taipei area.
  • Remediating the Wugu Landfill (整治五股垃圾山).
  • Conducting the Wen Zai Zhen Urban Land Consolidation Project (塭仔圳重劃案).
  • Carrying out Urban Renewal (都市更新).
  • Completing the Taipei MRT Circular Line (捷運三環六線).

Hou also noted that he is striving to elevate both the quality and quantity of educational institutions in New Taipei City, including public pre-schools. He said his aim is to make New Taipei “a city with warmth.”

Hou also told the AmCham audience that increasing numbers of young talent are moving into New Taipei City, creating a conducive environment for attracting investment opportunities.

In this photo: AmCham President William Foreman; New Taipei City Mayor Hou Yu-ih; and AmCham Governors.


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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.

U.S. Department of Commerce’s Ian Steff on the Indo-Pacific Strategy and Vision

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets Ian Steff spoke at an AmCham Taipei luncheon meeting on November 11 on the theme of “The U.S., Taiwan, and a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” Steff, who is concurrently Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service at the Commerce Department, was in Taiwan as head of the U.S. delegation attending the third Taiwan-U.S. Digital Economy Forum, jointly organized by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. (TECRO).

Participation in the Digital Economy Forum from the U.S. government included officials representing the Department of State, Department of Commerce, Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Agency for International Development, and AIT. Members of the delegation also attended the AmCham luncheon, part of the Chamber’s “Insights from Washington” series.

In his presentation, Steff discussed the four pillars of activity of his office:

  • Promoting international trade relations.
  • Encouraging investment into the U.S. through the Select USA program.
  • Engaging in advocacy on behalf of U.S. companies bidding on international contracts to help ensure a fair process.
  • Working to reduce or eliminate trade barriers.

He also introduced the U.S. government’s Indo-Pacific strategy, stressing that it is “industry-driven” with the aim of enhancing commercial interests and ensuring investment climates that are friendly to U.S. investors. And he commended the Taiwan government for such recent achievements as the establishment of a patent linkage system to strengthen IPR protection for pharmaceuticals.

Before Steff’s tenure in the U.S. Department of Commerce, he served as the State of Indiana’s first Chief Innovation Officer. He also worked for the Semiconductor Industry Association for nearly a decade, during which time he traveled often to Taiwan and made lasting connections 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.

President Tsai Addresses AmCham’s 2019 AGM

With President Tsai Ing-wen as the keynote speaker, AmCham Taipei’s 2019 Annual General Meeting was held November 19 in the newly redecorated Grand Ballroom of Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza. The President paid tribute to the Chamber’s “key role in advancing Taiwan-U.S. trade relations, and in bringing new investments to Taiwan.”

Some 230 Chamber members and guests attended the luncheon meeting, where voting was conducted for the 2020 Board of Governors and Supervisors. See the announcement of the results here.

The six Governors elected for two-year terms were:

  • Mark Chen of Abbott Laboratories
  • CW Chin of Applied Materials Taiwan
  • Timothy Shields of Cigna Taiwan
  • Gina Tsai of Airbnb
  • Fupei Wang of Ogilvy Public Relations
  • Angela Yu of Microsoft

They join 2019-2021 Governors Al Chang of Deloitte & Touche, Albert Chang of McKinsey, Seraphim Ma of Baker & McKenzie, Jan-Hendrik Meidinger of the Grand Hyatt Taipei, and Paulus Mok of Citibank.

Newly elected for one-year terms as Supervisors were:

  • Mark Horng of Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Stephen Tan of International Policy Advisory Group
  • Terry Tsao of SEMI Taiwan

In her speech, President Tsai also thanked AmCham for helping to “remove many obstacles for U.S. companies investing and operating in Taiwan.” She said the government listens closely to the suggestions of AmCham members and responds to their concerns, citing the recent implementation of a Patent Linkage System for pharmaceuticals as an example. See her full remarks here.

Tsai stressed her administration’s determination to build a new economic development model for Taiwan, one that will “transform Taiwan into Asia’s high-end manufacturing and R&D center, a regional financial and wealth management center, and a base for high-quality talent.”

The meeting also included a State of the Chamber 2019 report by Leo Seewald, who served as the AmCham Taipei chairman for most of the year. He highlighted the Chamber’s recent achievements, including receiving the 2019 Corporate Community Leadership Award from the Community Services Center for “exceptional leadership, service, and commitment to Taiwan.”

Seewald also presented the first annual Outstanding Committee Co-chair Awards to Joyce Lee of the Public Health Committee and Dylan Tyson of the Insurance Committee.

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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 68th Anniversary

Participants in AmCham Taipei’s cocktail reception marking the 68th anniversary of the Chamber’s birth in 1951 enjoyed a spectacular view from The Penthouse on the 16th floor of the eslite Hotel. Nearly 100 attendees gathered to enjoy a delicious selection of canapés, freeflowing wine and Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch, raffle prizes, and stimulating conversation. The event on September 19 was sponsored by American Airlines.

Chamber President Bill Foreman welcomed the members and guests, and a slide show drew attention to the Chamber’s signature events and major activities over recent years. The reception ended with a lucky draw contest with prizes sponsored by the Chamber that included Sparkling Wines and Glenlivet 15 Year Old Scotch Malt Whisky.

AmCham Taipei had five member companies at its founding and has since grown to a membership of more than 500 business organizations.

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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 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.