TPP Insights from Washington DC

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Most of the reporting from the United States these days paints a bleak picture of the prospects for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement to be ratified by Congress. But at AmCham Taipei’s “TPP: Insights from Washington D.C.” luncheon event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on September 13, the speakers cautioned the audience “don’t believe everything you read.”

Speaking were Wendy Cutler, formerly the lead U.S. negotiator for TPP and now vice president and managing director of the Washington office of the Asia Society Policy Institute, and Tami Overby, senior vice president, Asia, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Although there is heightened anxiety in the United States about the country’s economic future, with trade often unfairly blamed for the loss of manufacturing jobs, polls show that a majority of Americans still support free trade in general and the TPP in particular, Cutler said. Given the high priority that President Obama has attached to TPP passage, and the continued support from most of the Congressional leadership, she said she expects ratification to occur during the lame duck session of Congress that follows the November elections.

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Citing the importance of TPP as a high-standard trade pact that will bring economic benefits while also bolstering American leadership in Asia, Overby quoted Winston Churchill as saying “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

Cutler urged the Taiwan government not to wait, but to proceed to undertake reforms to prepare to be considered for TPP entry in a second round. She noted that investors are already beginning to think in terms of a post-TPP world, choosing to locate their investments in TPP economies because of the strong IPR and legal protections.

Among the special guests at the luncheon were Minister without Portfolio John Deng, who is in charge of Taiwan’s efforts to become TPP-ready; Bureau of Foreign Trade Director-General Jen-ni Yang; Chairman Francis Liang of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA); Connie Chang, Director General of the Department of Overall Planning at the National Development Council; and Jeff Horwitz, chief of the Economic Section at the American Institute in Taiwan.

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Conference highlights Taiwan’s potential in biologics sector

Written By Matthew Fulco

Taiwan is set to become a larger player in the burgeoning global biological drug market – which is forecast to reach US$252 billion by 2017 – on the back of its strong research and development ability and government support.

The island is in the midst of developing a robust pipeline for biological drugs (biologics), experts say. Biologics are treatments derived from living organisms –  the cultures of living cells – instead of chemistry labs. They include a suite of products such as vaccines, blood and blood components, allergenics, gene therapy and tissues. Biological drugs are gaining popularity with consumers because of their effectiveness in treating illnesses such as breast cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Biologics are treatments derived from living organisms –  the cultures of living cells – instead of chemistry labs.

Gaining Momentum

From February 25-26, Taipei hosted the fourth annual Biologics World Taiwan conference. The event featured presentations by senior executives from leading biopharma and biotech firms, both local and global, as well as top Taiwanese scientists.

During his presentation, OBI Pharma chairman Michael Chang noted the Taiwan biologics sector is entering a “critical stage of global trials.” Chang said it was important for Taiwan to build on its momentum in biologics and “move toward a profitable business model.” He acknowledged the challenges in securing greater funding from investors.

the Taiwan biologics sector is entering a “critical stage of global trials.”

Herng-Der Chern, chief medical officer of Taiwan’s Supra Integration and Incubation Center, suggested during his presentation that Taiwan position itself as a “virtual mid-size biotech company.” That could be useful in building Taiwan’s brand in the field of biotechnology, he said.

On the sidelines of the conference, Taiwan Business TOPICS spoke with several delegates. “This event was very valuable for us to understand what Taiwanese companies are doing in biologics and how we can support them,” said Helge Berg, director of the biomanufacturing sciences network at Merck Millipore in Germany.

“Prior to attending this conference, I didn’t realize how buoyant the Taiwanese biotech field was,” said Nevil Chimon, chief executive officer of Singapore-based Primetrics, a contract research firm. “We’re able to catch them at their infancy and there is an opportunity to give them the support they need as they move to clinical testing.”   

“Prior to attending this conference, I didn’t realize how buoyant the Taiwanese biotech field was,” said Nevil Chimon, chief executive officer of Singapore-based Primetrics

Government Efforts

Taiwan’s biologics sector has been growing steadily since 2009 when the government launched the Taiwan Biotechnology Takeoff Diamond Action Plan. Under the scheme, the government has established a biotechnology venture capital fund, a Food and Drug Administration and an integrated biotech incubation center.

In addition, Taiwan currently has two biotech clusters, the Southern Taiwan Science Park – which is formed by parks in both Tainan and Kaohsiung – and the Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park.

President-elect Tsai Ing-wen has said her administration will seek to develop Taiwan as a research hub in Asia for biotechnology and biomedicine. “We have excellent human resources in clinical medicine and research to study diseases specific to ethnic Chinese, with a renowned international reputation,” she said during an October 2015 speech at Democratic Progressive Party headquarters.

Tsai added: “We also possess a world-class medical system with sufficient medical professionals and facilities that are well-equipped to conduct clinical tests for new medicines and medical devices.”