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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.

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….

AmCham Taipei Called on Taiwanese Government Leaders

AmCham Taipei delegations in recent weeks called on Taiwanese government leaders, including President Tsai Ing-wen and Premier Su Tseng-chang, to brief them on the Chamber’s CEO Mission to Washington, D.C. in June. The session with the Premier was also attended by representatives of other departments within the Executive Yuan, including Minister Chen Mei-ling of the National Development Council. Other recent meetings were with Foreign Minister David Lee and Minister without Portfolio and Chief Trade Negotiator John Deng.

The AmCham delegations at the meetings were led by Chairman Leo Seewald and President William Foreman, and included other members of the Chamber leadership and staff who participated in the visit to Washington.

The briefings focused on the key objectives of this year’s CEO Mission:

  • Helping to lay the groundwork for eventual FTA negotiations between the U.S. and Taiwan.
  • Encouraging early resumption of the bilateral TIFA process, including scheduling of a TIFA Council meeting.
  • Urging the U.S. to send high-level (especially Cabinet-level) officials on visits to Taiwan more frequently.

Although the CEO Mission did not encounter any immediate breakthroughs on these issues, it came away encouraged by an increasingly positive atmosphere in Washington regarding relations with Taiwan.

U.S. Treasury Officials Call at AmCham

During a mid-July visit to Taiwan, Mitchell Silk, Acting Assistant Secretary for International Markets at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, met at Amcham Taipei with members of the Chamber’s infrastructure, energy, and banking committees. He was accompanied by David Gottfried, Deputy Director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Investment, Energy, and Infrastructure.

The Treasury officials were visiting various countries in East Asia to explore such topics as debt market development, increasing private sector participation in public infrastructure projects, and promoting competitive procurement policies.

Before joining the government in October 2017, Silk had a 30-year legal career specializing in energy and infrastructure matters, asset management, banking and finance, especially in Asia. He speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese.

AmCham “CEO Mission to Washington” Trip

Each year, the release of the Taiwan White Paper is followed by a “CEO Mission to Washington”. The central purpose of the trip is to promote the Chamber’s agenda for this year and facilitate its advocacy efforts. The delegation will exchange views with U.S. government officials, members of Congress, think tanks, and others interested in the U.S.-Taiwan economic relationship. This is an opportunity for AmCham to provide briefings on the business climate in Taiwan and to learn about the latest developments in U.S. policy toward Taiwan, especially at a time of growing pressure from China.

The group will present the Taiwan White Paper to contacts in Washington and remind them of the economic and strategic importance of Taiwan. In the Messages to Washington section of the Taiwan White Paper, AmCham urges the U.S. administration and Congress to take into consideration ways to broaden and deepen the American relationship with Taiwan.

Read or download the complete Taiwan White Paper.

  • Suggestion 1: Enter into negotiations with Taiwan for a bilateral trade agreement (BTA).
  • Suggestion 2: Set the stage for BTA negotiations through the resumption of TIFA Council meetings.
  • Suggestion 3: Arrange more high-level government visits in both directions.
  • Suggestion 4: Implement tax reforms to relieve burdens on Americans overseas and help promote U.S. exports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AmCham Delegation Calls on new Premier Su Tseng-chang

AmCham Taipei representatives led by Chairman Leo Seewald met with Premier Su Tseng-chang on January 21 to congratulate him on his recent appointment as premier. The Premier was accompanied by National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling and other officials from the Executive Yuan.

Besides Mr. Seewald, who is the Chairman/Managing Director of BlackRock Investment Management (Taiwan) Limited, the AmCham delegation consisted of:

  • William Foreman, AmCham Taipei President.
  • Dylan Tyson, AmCham Taipei Supervisor and Insurance Committee Co-Chair, who is President & CEO of Prudential Life Insurance Company of Taiwan Inc.
  • Don Shapiro, AmCham Taipei Senior Director and Editor-in-Chief, Taiwan Business TOPICS
  • Amy Chang, AmCham Taipei Senior Director of Government and Public Affairs

2018 AmCham Doorknock – June 18-22

The Chamber’s annual “Doorknock” visit to Washington DC this year took place between June 18 and 22. The group held a total of 45 meetings, including calls on the State Department, Commerce Department, National Security Council, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, dozens of Congressional offices, and leading think tanks. The delegation, which was led by AmCham President William Foreman and Vice Chairman Leo Seewald, was also invited for tea by Taiwan’s representative in Washington, Stanley Kao, at the Twin Oaks estate owned by Taiwan.

Delegation members visit the State Department.

The Doorknock group with Commerce Department officials.

A central purpose of the Doorknock was to remind contacts in Washington of “why Taiwan matters,” including its rank as the United States’ 11th largest trading partner, integral role in the supply chain of major American technology companies, vibrant democracy, and sharing of basic American values. The delegation also urged the U.S. government to schedule regular consultations with Taiwan under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) umbrella, explore entering into negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement, and send more high-level American officials on visits to Taiwan. In both executive and legislative branch offices, the group heard expressions of desire to deepen the economic relationship between the United States and Taiwan, especially if existing trade differences surrounding the export of U.S. meat products could be resolved.

The delegation was received at the U.S. Trade Representative.

Delegation members with Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS).

Besides Foreman and Seewald, other members of the delegation included Wendy Lin, General Manager of Johnson & Johnson Taiwan and a co-chair of AmCham’s Pharmaceutical Committee; Petra Jumpers, General Manager of Eli Lilly and Co. (Taiwan) and another Pharmaceutical Committee co-chair; Christine Kuan, External Affairs & Market Access Director at Bristol-Myers Squibb (Taiwan), representing the Public Health Committee; Natasha Lai, Senior New Product Planning & Government Affairs Manager for Eli Lilly (Taiwan); T.K. Lo, Technical & Regulatory Manager at Amway Taiwan; Lynn Cinelli, Director of Emerging Markets Public Policy for Merck Sharp & Dohme; Nathan Kaiser of the law firm Eiger; Don Shapiro, AmCham Senior Director and Editor-in-Chief of Taiwan Business TOPICS; and Any Chang, AmCham Senior Director for Government and Public Affairs.

For many meetings they were joined by the Washington-based representatives of AmCham member companies or cooperative organizations, including AdvaMed, Amway, Bechtel, Cigna, Herbalife, Medtronic, Microsoft, Prudential, and Versum Materials.

While traversing the halls of Congress, the AmCham Doorknockers met a large delegation of Taiwanese-American businesspeople from the World Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce who were on a similar mission.

2018 Messages to Washington

Following release each year of the Taiwan White PaperAmCham Taipei sends a delegation to Washington D.C. for what is called the “Washington Doorknock.” This year’s Doorknock will take place June 18-22, and will involve more than 40 meetings with U.S. government officials from the executive and legislative branch offices, think tanks, and others interested in the U.S.-Taiwan economic relationship. It is always an excellent opportunity for AmCham to provide briefings on the state of the business climate in Taiwan and to learn about the latest developments in U.S. policy toward Taiwan and the Asian region.

The Messages to Washington section of the Taiwan White Paper outlines the essential points AmCham wishes to share with the U.S. government, as shown in the accompanying infographicDownload the complete Taiwan White Paper.