President Tsai Addresses AmCham Taipei Banquet, Hsieh Nien Fan

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei held its 49th annual Hsieh Nien Fan banquet on March 22nd in the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Taipei. This year’s attendance was a record high of nearly 700 AmCham Taipei members and guests.

The purpose of the event is to express thanks to Taiwan government officials, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and other friends of the Chamber for their cooperation and support in the previous year.

Attending for the first time since taking office last May, President Tsai Ing-wen delivered the keynote speech, becoming the fourth president of the Republic of China to do so.  She commended AmCham Taipei, noting that “for 66 years this chamber has served as a vital bridge between Taiwan, the United States, and the business communities of our two countries.” Citing AmCham Taipei’s annual Doorknock delegation to Washington D.C., Tsai said that “without these efforts, the Taiwan-U.S. partnership would not be in the robust health it is in today.”

President Tsai Ing-wen delivered the keynote speech, becoming the fourth president of the Republic of China to do so.

The president said that with a new administration now in office in the United States, “we have entered a new stage of Taiwan-U.S. relations.” She outlined her government’s plans to strengthen that relationship in three areas:

  1. Strategic. Taiwan is supporting peace-keeping efforts in Iraq and Syria by assisting with international mine-removal efforts; in January it also donated a mobile hospital for use in Iraq. In addition, Taiwan will make greater investment in its own defense, to the benefit of peace and stability in the region, and will seek more cooperation with American defense firms as it builds up an indigenous defense industry and procures more military systems from the United States. This initiative, together with programs in aerospace and cybersecurity, will help create thousands of jobs in Taiwan and the U.S., Tsai said.
  2. Trade. The United States is already Taiwan’s second largest trading partner, with trade in goods and services reaching US$85 billion last year. Faced with the Trump administration’s America First policy, however, “Taiwan is prepared to make adjustments” – emphasizing not only free trade but fair trade, the president said. Referring to her background as a trade negotiator, she said “I firmly believe that through communication and negotiation, trade conflicts and other differences can always be resolved.” She stated her hope that Taiwan and the U.S. can “work together toward a new bilateral trade agreement – preferably, of course, FTA-type.”
  3. Investment. Taiwan will send its largest ever delegation to attend the SelectUSA investment summit in Washington this June to actively seek opportunities to invest in the United States. At the same time, Taiwan’s 5+2 innovation program will open new opportunities for cooperation and investment in Taiwan by U.S. companies and for the purchase of American goods.

AmCham Taipei Chairman, Albert Chang, presented President Tsai with the book The Female Lead: Women Who Shape Our World, as a gift to show our gratitude for her participation and support of the event.

Opening the evening were remarks by AmCham Taipei Chairman, Albert Chang, who expressed thanks on behalf of the Chamber to both the Taiwan government and AIT for helping to promote a positive business environment in Taiwan. He stressed the findings of AmCham Taipei’s recent 2017 Business Climate Survey that an already excellent business environment – especially with regard to quality of life and human capital – could easily be further improved through greater regulatory transparency and consistency.

Director Kin W. Moy of the American Institute in Taiwan also spoke, stressing the opportunities for further U.S.-Taiwan economic cooperation through such channels as the ongoing dialogue as part of the TIFA (Trade and Investment Framework Agreement) platform, bilateral Digital Economy Forums, Global Cooperation and Training Framework, International Environmental Partnership, and APEC.

Besides President Tsai, other high-level Taiwan government dignitaries in attendance this year included:

  • National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Joseph Wu
  • Legislative Yuan Secretary General Jih-Jia Lin
  • Executive Yuan Minister without Portfolio John Chen-Chung
  • Ministry of Interior Minister Jiunn-rong Yeh 
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister David Tawei Lee
  • Ministry of Science and Technology Minister Liang-Gee Chen
  • Ministry of Health and Welfare Minister Shih-Chung Chen 
  • Environmental Protection Administration Minister Ying-Yuan Lee 
  • National Communications Commission Chairperson Nicole,T.I. Chan

The event would not have been possible without the contribution of the following sponsors:

  • Platinum Sponsor: Citibank
  • Gold Sponsors: Corning Display; Franklin Templeton Investments; Standard Chartered Bank
  • Silver Sponsors: 3M, HSBC, JTI, and Micron
  • Bronze Sponsors: Air Products, American Express, Baker & McKenzie, Dun & Bradstreet, K&L Gates, Philip Morris, Qualcomm, and Siemens
  • General Sponsors: Audi, Ford Lio Ho, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Grand Hyatt Taipei, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Tobacco Institute of the Republic of China.
  • Wine & Liquor: Diageo Taiwan, Sergio Valente

2016 Annual General Meeting

On Tuesday, November 22, AmCham Taipei held its 2016 Annual General Meeting, where members and guests gathered to vote for the next year’s Board of Governors, as well as changes to the Chamber’s Articles of Association.

AmCham Chairman Dan Silver delivers the 2016 Year in Review Presentation at the Annual General Meeting

AmCham Chairman Dan Silver delivers the 2016 Year in Review Presentation at the Annual General Meeting

Year in Review

Following President Andrea Wu’s opening remarks, Chairman Dan Silver delivered a presentation summarizing the Chamber’s collective achievements, milestones and activities from the past year. View the full presentation below.

Keynote Speech

This year, we were honored to have Mr. Robin Ren, Vice President and Head of Asia Pacific at Tesla Motors, as our keynote speaker. Ren passionately explained Tesla’s vision for a sustainable future to guests in attendance, highlighting the achievements of Elon Musk’s automotive enterprise and calling for a collective effort to create a cleaner and greener world through technological advancement.

Robin Ren, Vice President and Head of Asia Pacific at Tesla Motors, gives a talk on Tesla's vision for a sustainable future to guests at the 2016 AGM.

Robin Ren, Vice President and Head of Asia Pacific at Tesla Motors, gives a talk on Tesla’s vision for a sustainable future to guests at the 2016 AGM.

 

Election Results

We give our sincere thanks to all of our voting members who attended and offered their support. With your help, we reached a quorum, and held a successful election.

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The board structure page on our site will be updated in January to reflect the status of incoming and outgoing board members. A brief summary of results follows – you may download the complete announcement by clicking here.

2017-2018 Governors (Name, Company)

  • Sammy Carolus, Grand Hyatt Taipei
  • Albert Chang, McKinsey & Company, Inc.
  • Margaret Driscoll, Eli Lilly and Company (Taiwan), Inc.
  • Tim Ju, Ford Lio Ho Motor Co., Ltd.
  • Seraphim Ma, Baker & McKenzie
  • Rodney Morgan, Micron Tech Asia Pacific Taiwan
  • Vincent Shih, Microsoft Taiwan Corp.

2017 Supervisors (Name, Company) 

  • Anita Chen, Independent Marketing & Research Limited
  • Nick Chen, DHL Express (Taiwan) Corp.
  • Bimal Kapoor, National Basketball Association
  • Carl Lin, Procter & Gamble Taiwan Ltd.
  • Raghavendra Shenoy, Johnson & Johnson Medical Taiwan Ltd.
Current board members, along with Chairman Dan Silver, President Andrea Wu, present guest speaker Robin Ren of Tesla with a token of appreciation following his keynote presentation.

Current board members, along with Chairman Dan Silver, President Andrea Wu, present guest speaker Robin Ren of Tesla with a token of appreciation following his keynote presentation.

AmCham 2016 Cybersecurity Forum

With the U.S. presidential race embroiled in controversy due in no small part to hacked emails revealing intimate details of strategy and opinion, while Taiwan deals with a spectacular heist of local ATMs by Russian hackers based in London, the threat of cyber-attacks spans the globe.

Accordingly, on October 6, AmCham Taipei joined hands with three influential Taiwanese associations – the Information Service Industry Association of the R.O.C. (CISA), the Cloud Computing Association in Taiwan, and Taipei Computer Association (TCA) – to host the 2016 Cybersecurity Forum. Sponsored by Microsoft Taiwan and the FireEye internet security firm, the forum featured notable speakers representing the U.S. FBI, the Executive Yuan’s Department of Cyber Security, the Ministry of Justice, and Deloitte & Touche, as well as industry experts from FireEye, IBM, Intumit, and Microsoft.

The forum opened with recorded remarks by Audrey Tang, the celebrated “hacktivist” and now Minister without Portfolio, who described attacks against Taiwanese government and businesses as “one of the most urgent challenges that we have to deal with.” Tang said that only by assuring cybersecurity “can we realize the full potential” of the internet as a “vibrant force for economic, social and cultural development.”

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Rod Morgan, AmCham Technology co-chair and head of Inotera/Micron in Taiwan, introduced the speakers, starting with Joshua Kim, the U.S. FBI legal attaché for Hong Kong-Taipei. According to Kim, a cyberattack follows a general “kill chain,” which starts with reconnaissance of a system for vulnerabilities, penetration and delivery of malicious code to take control of the target computers, and finally, data or money theft, or network destabilization.

The Cybersecurity Management Act

Taiwan’s government is developing its Cybersecurity Management Act to establish the legal and regulatory framework to “help government and the private sector to improve cybersecurity and risk management,” noted Jyan Hong-wei, Director-General for the Department of Cybersecurity under the Executive Yuan. Jyan said that while the government has a number of executive orders targeted at improving cybersecurity, the scope of these orders is too narrow and neglects critical infrastructure owned and managed by the private sector.

The new act fills these gaps by offering a comprehensive law covering both central and local government as well as state-owned enterprises and critical infrastructure providers in the private sector. Jyan noted that the proposed law would not cover the private sector as a whole, an assurance that industry welcomed as making the scope of the law more workable. AmCham’s Technology Committee also welcomed his invitation for companies and organizations to provide their suggestions and input.

Wu Fu-mei, deputy director of the Information and Communication Security (ICS) division within the Ministry of Justice, presented a glimpse at the MOJ’s efforts to investigate and combat cybercrime in Taiwan. The ICS employs Taiwan’s first accredited laboratory for computer forensics. This forensics lab is crucial to investigating proliferating cases of “ransomware,” in which a victim’s data is stolen and encrypted and the criminals demand payment for its return, as well as cyberattacks committed by insiders within an organization and APT (Advanced Persistent Threats), which are ongoing, sophisticated threats such as presented by China’s infamous hacker army.

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Wu’s deputy, Lo Yueng-tien, special agent in the Cyber Crime section, gave a separate presentation detailing the hack of the First Bank ATMs in which a Eastern European gang attempted to steal over US$2 million. Thanks to savvy detective work by Taiwan’s investigators combined with clumsy footwork by the criminals, most of the perpetrators were arrested and the money largely recovered.

Hans A. Barre, senior manager for Risk Advisory with Deloitte & Touche, then gave a presentation reminding corporate leaders to prepare for the inevitability of cyber-attacks and remain actively involved in both prevention and recovery.

Expanding Awareness

A panel discussion moderated by AmCham Technology Committee co-chair Revital Golan followed with participants Vincent Shih, assistant general counsel and GM of Microsoft’s legal affairs division; Hsu Wei-lun, senior manager with IBM Taiwan; JD Chiou, CEO of Intumit, Inc. and a Judicial Yuan advisor; and Jarvett Lin, Greater China manager for FireEye. The panelists stressed the need for every member of an organization to be aware of cybersecurity. Hacking victim First Bank, for example, took all of the right steps towards preventing a cyber-attack, yet access was obtained through a spear-phishing attack. (Recent evidence indicates that the Democratic National Committee emails were likewise hacked through spear phishing.)

Cyberattacks seem to be on the rise, and organizations need to prepare to defend their data as well as mitigate the damage and recover from losses, the panelists said. Vincent Shih of Microsoft starkly divided the world’s companies into two kinds: those that know that they have been hacked and are doing something about it, and those that don’t yet know that they have been hacked.

“That’s the real situation right now,” Shih said. “We need to expand this awareness.”

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Special Event – Countdown to the US Election

For those expecting fireworks, the AmCham’s Special Luncheon, “Countdown to the 2016 US Presidential Election,” on Oct 19, might have been a disappointment. Rather than political discord, attendees were instead treated to reasoned analysis of the U.S. presidential campaign and its possible ramifications on U.S. policy toward Asia by two keen observers of U.S. politics and Asia policy: William A. Stanton, Founding Director, the Center for Asia Policy (CAP), National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Taiwan and former AIT Director; and Ross Feingold, Senior Adviser at DC International Advisory.

Moderated by Paul Cassingham, Senior Legal Consultant at Eiger as well as a former AmCham Chairman and current Government Relations Committee Chair, the luncheon featured 15-minute presentations by each of the speakers, followed by Q&A and open discussion.

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William A. Stanton, Founding Director, the Center for Asia Policy (CAP), National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Taiwan and former AIT Director, presents his analysis of the US election’s potential impact in Asia.

Stanton’s presentation, The U.S. Presidential Election and What it Means for Asia, focused on four key areas:

  • U.S. Policy toward China
  • U.S. Policy towards Taiwan
  • the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • and the South China Sea

He noted that both of the candidates talked tough on China, with Trump’s criticisms primarily economic while Clinton’s were more broadly aimed at China’s poor human rights record, its growing military might, accusations that China is wielding an army of cyber-attackers aimed at the United States, and its lack of democracy.

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Ross Feingold, Senior Adviser at DC International Advisory, presented a broader overview of the election process up to this point.

Feingold, who identified himself as a Republican who does not support Trump, focused more broadly on the bruising primary and presidential campaigns and how each candidate has fared. He noted that while recent email leaks and other public relations disasters have resulted in low public approval for Clinton, Trump’s approval ratings are in the basement, resulting in a distinct advantage for Clinton. Feingold also said that the Democratic Party’s platform remains focused on the “One-China” policy, while the Republican Party platform is more detailed and more supportive of Taiwan.

Participants joined in a lively discussion over what the election might mean for Taiwan, including the chances of the TPP being passed under either candidate. Stanton and Feingold concurred that although both candidates expressed disapproval for the TPP, Clinton would more likely re-open negotiations for the Pacific-wide trade agreement. Regarding another issue of concern for U.S. expats in Taiwan, Clinton has expressed support for the FATCA exemption on bank reporting. The Trump campaign has said nothing on this matter.

AmCham Taipei Marks 65th Anniversary

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AmCham Chairman Dan Silver (left), AIT Deputy Director Robert Forden (center), and AmCham President Andrea Wu toast on stage to celebrate the 65th anniversary of AmCham Taipei

With a gala reception attended by nearly 100 members and guests, the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei on Sept. 22 celebrated the 65th anniversary of its establishment. The event was held at the Taipei 47 restaurant on the 47th floor of the Cathay Landmark building, offering attendees spectacular views of nighttime Taipei.

In brief remarks, AmCham Chairman Dan Silver highlighted some of AmCham’s key achievements over the past year, including the highly successful 2016 “Doorknock” visit to Washington, D.C. in mid-June and its advocacy efforts on behalf of more transparency and public engagement in the Taiwan government’s process for drafting new laws and regulations.

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Another new development for AmCham Taipei was the expansion of its physical space to open its own well-equipped conference facility, the Lincoln Room, one floor below the main AmCham office. So far, the Lincoln Room has served as the venue for Chamber events such as press conferences, government visits, luncheons, workshops, seminars, happy hours, and marketplace sessions, and it is also available for rental by member companies and others.

Silver also called attention to the offering of digital versions of the contents of the Chamber’s popular monthly publication, Taiwan Business TOPICS.

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Representing the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Deputy Director Robert Forden expressed appreciation for AmCham’s longstanding efforts to strengthen economic relations between Taiwan and the United States. He cited the Chamber’s annual Taiwan White Paper as providing excellent reference for both the Taiwan and U.S. governments regarding the needs of multinational businesses operating in Taiwan.

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2016 AmCham Taipei Washington Doorknock

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AmCham Taipei conducted its 2016 Doorknock mission to Washington D.C. from June 20 to 24. Pictured above: Arizona Senator John McCain with AmCham Chairman Dan Silver and other members of the group.

This year’s AmCham Taipei Doorknock delegation, led by Chairman Dan Silver and President Andrea Wu, stressed the importance – for both Taiwan and the U.S. – of Taiwan entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) when it expands beyond the original 12 members.

At some points dividing into teams, the group met with representatives from 48 different offices and organizations, calling on members of the U.S. Executive Branch, U.S. Congress, the Taiwan Representative, and others. (See the full list below)

Doorknock Delegation with Congressman Matt Salmon (Arizona-R)

Delegation members with Congressman Matt Salmon (R-Arizona)

Key Takeaways

  • Although free-trade agreements have been the object of much criticism in the U.S. during this election year, the U.S. government remains committed to seeing the pact come into being. Progress is being made toward gaining broader U.S. industry support by resolving points of dissatisfaction that sectors such as pharmaceuticals and financial services have had with the TPP text.
  • A Congressional vote on TPP in a year-end “lame duck” session is a strong possibility, though not a certainty. Otherwise the vote would need to be either early in the next presidential term or after the 2018 mid-term elections.
  • Serious consideration of second-round TPP candidates will need to wait for the agreement’s entry into force. But Taiwan and Korea are being widely mentioned, along with the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Colombia.
  • China is already making known its opposition to Taiwan entering into TPP. Taiwan therefore needs to take urgent steps to demonstrate its qualifications – beyond any doubt – by showing firm commitment to international standards and practices. It also needs to work on resolving outstanding major trade issues with all 12 TPP countries.
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The delegation met with Ambassador Robert Holleyman, the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative

  • Preparations are under way for the annual U.S.-Taiwan TIFA talks to be held in Washington in the second half of the year. The U.S. side emphasizes the importance of making concrete progress on the various issues that will be on the table.
  • AmCham Taipei’s proposal for a second-generation Administrative Procedure Act met with enthusiastic support from many offices. There is appreciation that a single notification platform for proposed regulatory changes, ample time for the public to comment, and a mechanism for government agencies to respond would usher in a much more transparent and effective regulatory regime.
  • The U.S. government has been increasingly engaging with Taiwan in a wide variety of spheres. As the U.S. moves to devote more attention to Asia and the Tsai administration seeks to diversify Taiwan’s trade and investment, there should be more and more opportunities for productive cooperation between Washington and Taipei.
Delegation with Representative Erik Paulsen (Minessota)

Team members with Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-Minnesota)

 

Visits

U.S. Executive Branch

  • National Security Council
  • Department of State
    • Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
    • Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
  • Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)
  • Department of Commerce – International Trade Administration
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • American Institute in Taiwan/Washington
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At the Department of Commerce, the group met with Arun Kumar, the Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion

U.S. Congress

  • Offices of 10 Senators and 15 Representatives
  • House Ways and Means Committee staff
  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff
  • Congressional Research Service
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AmCham President Andrea Wu and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley

Other Organizations

  • AdvaMed
  • Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Brookings Institution
  • Council for Strategic and International Studies
  • DPP Liaison in Washington
  • Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT)
  • National Foreign Trade Council
  • Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • PhRMA
  • Samuels International Associate
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • U.S.-Taiwan Business Council
  • U.S. -Taiwan Business Forum
  • U.S. Green Building Council

Taiwan Representative

  • Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office

Conference Highlights Energy Efficiency

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Robert Forden, Acting Director of AIT, addresses the participants of the US-Taiwan Global Cooperation and Training Framework Conference on Energy Efficiency in Asia.

“Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will get you anywhere.”

Leo Chen-Jan Lee, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, quoted Albert Einstein as he addressed the “Conference on Energy Efficiency in Asia,” held June 16 and 17 and hosted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Bureau of Energy and the American Institute in Taiwan.

In the past several years, energy, climate change, and sustainable development have become key policy concerns for Taiwan, a nation that requires a stable and adequate energy supply for its semiconductor manufacturing and other high-tech industries. As an island, Taiwan cannot easily access the energy grids of its neighbors. In addition, lacking indigenous energy resources, it must import 98% of its energy supply from abroad.

In terms of electricity generation, thermal power plants – burning oil, coal, or LNG – account for nearly 78% of the supply, while nuclear takes up around 17% and renewable about 4%, according to the Bureau of Energy.

A major topic of recent discussion has been President Tsai Ing-wen’s ambitious energy-related goals: First, phasing out nuclear energy in Taiwan (creating a “Nuclear Free Homeland”), and second, reducing carbon emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2025.

“We need to be careful that in an emerging market, we don’t take policies exactly as they exist in developed countries and apply them without looking at the unique characteristics of that market.”

“One-size-fits-all” approach not viable

The two-day conference served as a platform for fruitful discussion on various aspects of energy efficiency, including policy and programs, industrial efficiency, commercial and residential building efficiency, and energy efficiency in the electricity system. The event, which was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, was attended by representatives from 13 Asian countries, as well as the United States and Australia, among others. Both public and private sectors were represented, illustrating the importance of inter-sectoral cooperation on this topic.

Speakers shared their own experiences, offering best practices for energy efficiency. Marc La France, a Senior Manager in the U.S. Department of Energy, stressed that a “one size fits all policy” would not work here. “We need to be careful that in an emerging market, we don’t take policies exactly as they exist in developed countries and apply them without looking at the unique characteristics of that market,” he explained.

The first day of the conference featured speakers from the Taiwanese and American governments, as well as from companies in both countries. The second day featured speakers from 10 Asian countries who shared their implementation experience. The conference was unique in that it not only featured prominent nations such as Australia and Japan, but small island nations as well, including the Marshall Islands and Palau.

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The conference featured speakers from all over the world and from both the private and public sectors.

Each session was followed by a question and answer period, and participants did not hesitate to ask difficult, and often very technical, questions. Several AmCham members, including President Andrea Wu, were present at the conference, listening to and networking with important energy players.

Energy in the White Paper

Energy is a key issue of the 2016 edition of the Taiwan White Paper, AmCham’s most important advocacy document, which was released several weeks ago. The White Paper contains a section on “Ensuring a Stable Energy Supply,” and urges the Taiwan government to provide “a clear, data-driven national energy plan” that includes “realistic energy goals” and “considers both energy demand and carbon-emission reduction goals.”

“The Taiwan government must ensure that Taiwan’s power supply continues to be sufficient, reliable, and competitively priced.”

Position papers in the document also advise the government to adopt new Demand Side Management technologies, provide more support for offshore wind farm development, and attract more FDI to participate in the government procurement market.

Overall, the paper recommends that the government “ensure that Taiwan’s power supply continues to be sufficient, reliable, and competitively priced.” But will Taiwan be able to do this while trying to meet some of the world’s most ambitious energy and carbon-abatement goals?

The 2016 Taiwan White Paper can be found online at www.amcham.com.tw/advocacy/white-paper.

Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

Teams race to the finish line during the annual Dragon Boat festival. (Image: Flickr)

Teams race to the finish line during the annual Dragon Boat festival. (Image: Flickr)

If you passed by the Tamsui River this week, you may have seen – or heard – dozens of dragon boats speeding through the water. The crews of these boats, which are so named because of their dragon-like appearance, have been practicing for the Dragon Boat Festival, an annual holiday that honors Qu Yuan, an exiled minister and poet from the Warring States Period. The holiday falls on June 9 this year.

While there are various interpretations of Qu Yuan’s story, a popular telling is as follows: Born around 344 BC, he was a powerful and patriotic minister from the state of Chu. He was later exiled – some say because he opposed the king’s alliance with the Qin state, while others say that his reputation was tarnished by jealous court officials.

Living in exile, Qu Yuan wrote beautiful poems describing his admiration for his country. Nearly 30 years later, his state was captured by Qin. Unable to bear this sorrow, Qu Yuan committed suicide by jumping into the Miluo River, illustrating his ultimate loyalty to his state.

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Dragon boats are carefully constructed decorated to resemble real dragons. (Image: Flickr)

The people of Chu rushed to the river on dragon boats to look for his body. Women threw zongzi, rice wrapped inside bamboo leaves, into the river, hoping the fish would eat that instead of his body. Men beat drums on their boats to scare the fish – and evil spirits – away, and a doctor emptied realgar wine (雄黃酒) into the river to repel monsters.

Two centuries later, the Dragon Boat Festival, known in Chinese as Duanwujie, is a lively holiday celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese lunisolar calendar – the day Qu Yuan threw himself into the river. This also happens to be around the time of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. As the sun is associated with masculine energy, this holiday represents the peak of masculine energy. Dragons are similarly symbolic.

There are many customs associated with Duanwujie, such as hanging mugwort bouquets to keep away mosquitos as the days become hotter and drinking realgar wine to ward off spirits. Children wear sachets containing different Chinese herbs for the same effect. Lastly, people eat zongzi, triangle-shaped balls of rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.

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It is not hard to find zongzi, which come in both sweet and savory varieties, during the holiday. (Image: Flickr)

Perhaps the most recognizable tradition is the dragon-boat racing. Typically, dragon boats consist of 22 people – 20 rowers, 1 drummer facing the paddlers, and 1 sweep who stands at the rear and steers. This year, 210 teams composed of 5,000 participants from across Taiwan and the rest of the world will compete in the three days of racing in Taipei. The largest competition in Taiwan, it takes place at Dajia Riverside Park and offers a winning prize of NT$3,190,000. (Click here for a schedule of events).

At the race, you’ll be sure to see people eating zongzi, and at exactly noon you may also witness egg balancing. It is said that if someone succeeds in balancing an egg at noon, they will have a lucky year.

AmCham Taipei wishes you a happy Dragon Boat Festival! 端午節快樂!

AmCham Releases 2016 Taiwan White Paper at Annual Luncheon

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Revamping the Taiwan government’s rules-making procedures, preparing a stellar case for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) candidacy, ensuring a stable and reliable supply of energy and water, and boosting Taiwan’s ability to attract and retain talent – these were the main recommendations presented by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei when launching the 2016 Taiwan White Paper on June 2.

Nearly a hundred AmCham Taipei members and guests gathered at the Regent Taipei for the release of the annual benchmark advocacy document, which provides the Chamber’s recommendations to the Taiwan government on ways to strengthen the Taiwan business climate. This year’s White Paper proposed a total of 80 suggestions from 20 AmCham committee plus three other industry groups.

Accepting the White Paper on behalf of the Taiwan government was Deputy Minister Kung Ming-hsin of the National Development Council (NDC).

AmCham Chairman Dan Silver told the audience that “Taiwan can be a leader across many, many fields and can achieve things that other economies and countries in the region cannot.” But he added that “action is needed” for these positive developments to occur.

Deputy Minister Kung accepted the White Paper on behalf of the Taiwan government.

Deputy Minister Kung accepted the White Paper on behalf of the Taiwan government.

Silver emphasized the government’s need for a more transparent regulatory process, calling attention to Taiwan’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA), a statute that governs the country’s regulation-making procedures. “We are calling on the administrative to look at the APA as an opportunity to step up engagement with the public at the Executive Yuan level,” he stated. Currently, Taiwan’s public-comment period is only seven days, which Silver argued does not allow ample time for feedback. In addition, government agencies normally do not respond to the public comments.

Extending the notification and comment period to 60 days, providing a single website as the platform for feedback to proposed regulations by all government agencies, and requiring the agencies to post their response would create a more transparent process and result in more effective and practical regulations, Silver said. APA reform would also “provide solid evidence of Taiwan’s seriousness about promoting its second-round candidacy for the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” he added.

APA reform would “provide solid evidence of Taiwan’s seriousness about promoting its second-round candidacy for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” 

The chairman also highlighted the need for the government to ensure a stable energy supply as it tries both to phase out nuclear power and sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions. In the White Paper, AmCham urges the government to present a detailed, data-driven and realistic plan for meeting future energy demand. Silver also discussed the need for labor regulations that suit the desire by knowledge workers to enjoy flexible working conditions that spur innovation and creativity. 

Chairman Dan Silver presented (?) the WP earlier that day at a press conference

Chairman Silver presented the advocacy document as a press conference earlier that day.

Looking back at the issues raised in the 2015 edition of the White Paper, Silver noted that six issues had been completely resolved, while another eight have shown significant progress. The resolved issues include two each from the Asset Management and Banking Committees, one from Sustainable Development, and one from Technology.

In remarks after accepting the 2016 White Paper, Deputy Minister Kung emphasized the crucial importance for Taiwan’s economic future of gaining membership in the second round of TPP. He also touched on the issues of attracting foreign talent and curbing domestic brain drain, suggesting possible stipends for Taiwanese students to matriculate abroad in exchange for commitments to return to work domestically after graduating.

“Within the first 100 days after Tsai’s inauguration, there is a real opportunity to articulate goals and point the economy in the right direction for improvement.”

He also underscored the new government’s desire to improve public communication and coordination among government agencies. He noted that under the Tsai Ing-wen administration, the NDC will play an even more important role, in that Cabinet ministers will attend Council meetings and develop a consensus on economic policies before they are submitted to the Executive Yuan for final approval.

As the new government has been in office only since May 20, the White Paper comes at an important transitional time for Taiwan. Silver noted that “within the first 100 days after Tsai’s inauguration, there is a real opportunity to articulate goals and point the economy in the right direction for improvement.”

The 2016 Taiwan White Paper can be found online at www.amcham.com.tw/advocacy/white-paper.

Vice-President-elect Attends AmCham Event on Biotech

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On April 21, AmCham hosted Vice-President-elect Chen Chien-Jen at a special luncheon event, Opportunities and Challenges for Taiwan to Become a Biotech Hub in Asia. Dr. Chen sent a strong signal to the AmCham community that the new administration is committed to creating a favorable environment for biotech in Taiwan.

Dr. Chen was joined by other members of the newly minted cabinet, including Minister-designate of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien, Minister-designate of Economic Affairs Lee Chih-kung, and Minister without Portfolio-designate Wu Tsung-tsong.

Sponsored jointly by the Medical Devices, Pharmaceutical, and Public Health committees, the luncheon held at the Sherwood Hotel featured presentations by AmCham chairman Dan Silver and standing Vice-Chairman Margaret Driscoll.

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Silver kicked off the event with an overview of the latest advances in medical devices. Bringing together IT, big data, and mechanical and biological engineering, they promised better and more cost-effective healthcare.

Silver observed that Taiwan is well-positioned to leverage its strengths in medicine and IT for a bright future in biotech, provided that Taiwan can provide a regulatory environment that facilitates innovation.

Taiwan is well-positioned to leverage its strengths in medicine and IT for a bright future in biotech, provided that Taiwan can provide a regulatory environment that facilitates innovation.

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Driscoll’s presentation on the pharmaceutical industry noted the lengthy time frames and high costs of developing new drugs, and observed that Taiwan’s highly innovative biotech industry would benefit from developing partnerships with multinationals to build global competitiveness.

Some highlights from luncheon and Q&A include:

  • The new administration is “not waiting for May 20 (Inauguration Day)” but is already working with the outgoing administration and the Legislative Yuan to increase support for biotech.
  • The new government pledges to accelerate the review of clinical trials and supports a bill that has been submitted to the Legislative Yuan to reorganize the Center for Drug Evaluation to speed up the approval process for new drug applications.
  • An inter-ministry task force on biotech will be created, coordinated by Minister without Portfolio-designate Wu and including representatives from the Ministries of Health and Welfare, Economic Affairs, and Science and Technology.
  • The new administration is looking to increase collaboration between Taiwanese biotech firms and multinationals as well as among research institutions, government, and corporations to expand Taiwan’s overall biotech industry.