AmCham Hosts Webinar with Labor Minister Hsu Ming-chun

As Taiwan appears to be nearing the end of a community outbreak of COVID-19 that began in May, many business owners must now make the tough decision of whether to call employees back to the office or continue their hybrid or work-from-home policies.

As remote working arrangements could potentially become a permanent option for employment even after the pandemic is over, Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun on July 27 joined an AmCham webinar to speak about labor conditions and regulations regarding this new trend.

During her presentation, Minister Hsu provided guidelines for employers to follow, which include:

  • Safety, health, and protection in a working environment: The Ministry of Labor emphasizes labor inspections, especially of food delivery platforms, retailers, and other businesses with a high risk of transmission of COVID-19.
  • Flexible working hours: Employers should communicate clearly with their employees any adjustments to work start and end times. Besides flexible working hours, vaccination and caretaking leave should also be provided.
  • Remote working: The government issued principles for work conducted outside of the normal workplace in 2015. These include replacing physical time clocks with online clock-in systems for digital records.

Hsu also urged member companies to pay attention to employees’ mental health and work-life balance since remote working decreases personal interaction.

AmCham Hosts Webinar with NDC Minister Kung Ming-hsin

On July 16, AmCham held a webinar with National Development Council (NDC) Minister Kung Ming-Hsin, who spoke to members about the government’s most recent COVID-19 relief program.

Daniel Tseng, Secretary of AmCham’s Board of Governors and President of Corning Display Technologies Taiwan, moderated the event. He introduced Minister Kung and thanked the NDC for its collaboration with AmCham Taiwan and support for the Chamber’s annual Taiwan White Paper.

Kung began his presentation by summarizing the current COVID-19 situation in Taiwan. In May, an outbreak of local infections resulted in a peak of between 500 and 600 new cases daily, Kung said, adding that Taiwan quickly contained the spread by introducing Level 3 restrictions. While Taiwan continues to record double-digit local COVID-19 cases each day, vaccines are becoming more available and Taiwan’s vaccination rate is increasing.

In contrast with last year’s initial outbreak, the economic effects of this new phase are concentrated on local businesses. Under the Level 3 restrictions, leisure, exhibition, and education-related activities have all been suspended. Other industries, such as food and beverage, tourism, and transportation also face heavy restrictions.

In terms of economic relief for businesses, Kung noted that Taiwan allocated comparatively few funds during the initial phases of the pandemic because Taiwan’s early response, largely informed by their experience with SARS, was highly effective. Given this, special reserves were available to implement broader relief measures.

The government’s approach to relief-funding is to concentrate financial aid on industries experiencing the most stress. Instead of providing blanket cash subsidies, the government has reserved financial resources for impacted industries and individuals, including unemployed workers and the service and tourism industries. Foreigners and part-time and contract workers are also eligible for aid. Additionally, the government introduced a NT$10,000-per-child family assistance program and helped certain households with expenses related to rent and utilities.

Concluding the presentation, Minister Kung noted the goal of the government’s COVID policies is to prioritize prevention, relief, and revitalization.

During the Q&A session held afterwards, a concern was raised about the difficulty some foreigners experienced with registering for vaccination appointments through the online platform. Registration on the platform is based on the number on an individual’s National Health Insurance (NHI) card, which not all foreigners possess. Kung responded that he would raise the issue with the relevant agency in order to determine an alternative method for foreigners without an NHI card to register.

Responding to a question about relief for foreign businesses, Kung noted that small and medium-sized companies qualify for financial assistance, regardless of the owner’s nationality. Business owners and individuals can dial the 1988 economic relief and stimulus hotline for assistance. Kung also hosts a weekly office hour to assist companies with applying for pandemic relief.

Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan and Colleagues Address AmCham Webinar

On June 28, AmCham Taiwan hosted a webinar with the Taoyuan City Government to provide information on government response to COVID-19 and relief efforts for businesses. The webinar – titled “COVID-19 Measures and Prospect of Taoyuan City” – featured a presentation and Q&A with Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan. He was joined by directors and staff from Taoyuan’s Secretariat, as well as its IT, Public Health, and Economic Development sections. AmCham Taiwan President Andrew Wylegela moderated the event.

In his opening remarks, Mayor Cheng emphasized Taoyuan’s importance as a travel and technology hub. To mitigate the impact of the pandemic on lives and businesses, Taoyuan has used multiple lines of defense to safeguard its population, including expanded COVID-19 testing, disinfection, and vaccination, while providing financial and logistical support to businesses.

Regarding vaccination, Taoyuan City Government noted that medical personnel, epidemic prevention workers in the central and local governments, frontline workers, and pregnant women currently can make appointments to be vaccinated. Additionally, foreign nationals with an ARC in designated priority groups are eligible for government-funded vaccines.

Photo Credit: Taoyuan City Government

Taoyuan’s daily vaccination capacity is dependent on their allocation by the central government. The city can now administer more than 10,000 doses daily, Taoyuan City Government said.

Speaking about relief loans, Cheng and colleagues informed AmCham members that Taoyuan offers services connecting businesses with loans and subsidies. More information can be found on the Taoyuan Department of Economic Development’s webpage.

Answering a question about migrant worker rights during the live Q&A session, Cheng emphasized that the Taoyuan government requires that companies treat migrant workers equally or face being penalized. The government said that it encourages migrant workers to stay in their dorms during the outbreak and provides them with entertainment and an allowance, but that they cannot be banned from going out. Taoyuan houses nearly 120,000 migrant workers, more than any other city in Taiwan.

To close the event, Andrew Wylegala thanked Mayor Cheng for answering member’s questions and for “sharing his vision for how Taiwan not only copes with but emerges stronger from the other side of this pandemic … we will do our best to channel all of this information to AmCham’s members using our website and other channels.”

AmCham Hosts COVID-19 Webinar with Taipei City Government

The recent COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan has had a major impact on the business community in Taipei. To provide members with the latest information regarding safety and relief measures for companies operating in Taipei, AmCham hosted a webinar on June 18 with Taipei City Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun and Commissioner for External Affairs Ambassador Tom T.C. Chou. Joining them were Deputy Executive Director for External Affairs Adam Yi and Taipei City Hospital Deputy Chief Superintendent Hsu Chia-Chen. The event was moderated by Microsoft Taiwan’s General Manager of Corporate, External and Legal Affairs Vincent Shih.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Mayor Tsai noted that the recent outbreak brought many challenges to Taipei and impacted the economy, particularly the hotel and service industries. By balancing pandemic prevention and economic assistance, Taipei City Government has largely mitigated relevant risks. Tsai stressed the importance of contact tracing and expressed optimism regarding Taiwan’s ability to keep infection rates low until a majority of the population has been vaccinated. He also extended his gratitude to the U.S. government for their donation of vaccines to Taiwan.

During the Q&A session, Yi informed members that the Taipei City government has offered relief measures for small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as support for revitalization and adaptation to “the new normal.” Furthermore, foreigners who have lived in Taipei for at least one year can apply for government subsidies. Yi also noted that loans for SMEs, which are distributed from the National Development Fund and the Small & Medium Enterprise Credit Guarantee Fund (SMEG), are available to both local and foreign firms.

Regarding vaccinations, Tsai said that Taiwan was expecting good news regarding international deliveries and referred attendees to the list of vaccination priority groups to determine whether they are eligible for their shot. The government is currently designing an English-language version of Taipei’s vaccine registration system to accommodate the approximately 70,000 foreigners living in Taipei.

Answering a question about school policies during the pandemic, Ambassador Chou stressed the volatility of the current situation but noted that Taipei schools will reopen in September, either in-person or online, regardless of the pandemic situation. Currently, 170,000 students in Taipei are taking online classes, and the government supports underprivileged students by providing them with laptops, tablets, sim cards, and routers on an as-needed basis.

Closing the event, AmCham Taiwan President Andrew Wylegala thanked Taipei City Government for answering the members’ questions and stressed the importance of continued dialogue between government and industry, particularly during the pandemic.

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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.

Advice for Human Resources in Special Times

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have implemented remote working. This new work style has created ambiguity in the field of labor regulations.

On April 7, AmCham Taipei’s Human Resources Committee hosted a webinar with two speakers with expertise in this area: Christine Chen, who heads Winkler Partners’ employment practice, and Heather Hsiao, a partner at Eiger Law and an experienced attorney and speaker on employment issues. This webinar was AmCham Taipei’s first online event. The two labor experts offered a list of guidelines regarding work-from-home:

  • Working hours – use electronic communication applications, such as email, LINE app, etc. to record working time.
  • Equipment – employers have an obligation to provide necessary equipment for employees to properly work remotely.
  • Quarantined workers – companies are required to prevent quarantined employees from being at work. The quarantine period cannot be counted as any type of leave. Neither can it be the reason for lay-off.
  • Wages – employees working remotely shall receive the same wages as working in the office, provided other working conditions remain the same. For quarantined workers, employers are encouraged but not obliged* to maintain regular salaries during a quarantine period. Companies that maintain normal salary payments will be eligible for tax reductions.

*If employers are not the reason for the quarantine.


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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.

Insights from Germany: Fighting Misinformation

In the digital age, false and misleading information can spread to millions instantly and manipulate public opinion. The issue of misinformation or fake news has preoccupied policymakers around the world, especially when it comes to elections.

To help enhance understanding of the issue, AmCham Taipei invited experts to explain different approaches to combating misinformation at a forum entitled, “Tackling Misinformation – Lessons Learned from Germany and Path Forward for Taiwan.” Dr. Ting-Chi Liu, Associate Professor of Law at National Chengchi University, and Dr. Wolfgang Schulz, Director of the Hans-Bredow-Institut for Media Research and Professor of Law at the Universität Hamburg, discussed the legal approaches in Taiwan and Germany to dealing with misinformation and shared their insights on this important matter. Special guests that attended the event were legislators Karen Yu and Lee-Li Feng.

Opening the session at the Chamber’s Lincoln Room on February 21, Liu explained the status of freedom of expression in Taiwan and platform liability under proposed draft legislation. He noted the three elements of punishable misinformation according to the Executive Yuan: 1) malice; 2) falsity; and 3) harm.

Schulz gave examples of incidents that led to the German NetzDG (Network Enforcement Act). He explained the regulatory concept behind the law and its importance, as many big players in the tech industry with operations in Germany have recently been affected by NetzDG.

As Taiwan will likely continue to refer to NetzDG in the near future, Schulz highlighted some of the criticisms of the law made by academics and industry experts:

  • Difficulty defining the scope of “Big Social Media Networks”
  • Creation of incentives for overblocking, as take-down is the easiest option for platform providers
  • Lack of technical means for taking the proper context into account
  • Impact on free speech as companies will try to avoid fines

What will be the best approach for the handling of misinformation in Taiwan? Perhaps a 360-degree approach for a more open communication among the authorities, private sector, and the public could strike a good balance between self-regulation and regulation. The event ended with a panel discussion moderated by Jo-Fan Yu, Partner at Baker & McKenzie. Joining the discussion were Dr. Ting-Chi Liu, Dr. Wolfgang Schulz, and legislators Karen Yu and Lee Li-Feng.



Interested in attending our events? Join us at other upcoming events, click here.

Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

Promoting Taiwan as a Liver Health Center of Excellence

Republic of China Vice President Chen Chien-jen, an epidemiologist with a background in researching hepatitis B, was the keynote speaker at the Taiwan Liver Health Forum sponsored by AmCham Taipei together with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW). The event, held at the Howard-Plaza Hotel on October 3, was attended by 90-some guests from government, the medical community, and industry.

The idea for the forum grew out of a suggestion by AmCham Taipei’s Public Health Committee in the 2018 Taiwan White Paper that Taiwan strive to become the “Liver Health Center of Excellence in Asia.” Participants in the forum confirmed the validity of that goal, citing Taiwan’s pioneering work in past decades in controlling hepatitis B through vaccination and the government’s progress toward eradicating hepatitis C in the coming decade in line with World Health Organization objectives.

Hepatitis is endemic in this part of the world, and is considered a major health risk because it often leads to liver cancer. Among the points made by speakers at the forum were the importance of increasing the amount of screening conducted in Taiwan for hepatitis C. Although the effort would lead to higher healthcare expenditures in the near term, in the long-run it will substantially save costs due to reduced hospitalization and mortality, as well as heightened productivity.

Speakers also called for further expansion of clinical trials in Taiwan, more public education to raise awareness regarding liver health, and workplace programs to encourage more screening.

Opening remarks at the forum were delivered by AIT Director W. Brent Christensen and MOHW Deputy Minister Ho Chi-kung. In his half-hour keynote address, Vice President used a PowerPoint presentation to brief the audience on Taiwan’s past successes in combating liver disease. Other speakers were Dr. Kao Jia-horng, president of the Taiwan Association for the Study of the Liver; Dr. Pwu Raoh-fang, director of the MOHW National Hepatitis C Program Office; Dr. Homie Razavi, managing director of the U.S. Center for Disease Analysis; and Dr. Chiu Chang-fang, vice president of China Medical University Hospital.

Two panel discussions were moderated by Ramanathan Velayutham, Taiwan general manager for AbbVie Biopharmaceutical, and Pang Lai-li, Taiwan managing director for Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), respectively. Aside from the speakers, the panelists included Dr. Lee Po-chang, director-general of the National Health Insurance Administration; and Bristol-Myers Squibb General Manager Sophia Lee. AmCham Taipei President William Foreman gave closing remarks.

Platinum sponsors for the event were Abbvie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Gilead Sciences. MSD was a silver sponsor.

Interested in attending our events? Join us at other upcoming events, click here.

Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

Amendments to the Company Act

Recognizing the need to enhance Taiwan’s business environment to stay competitive in the global market, the Tsai administration has enacted a series of ambitious policy changes and legal amendments aimed at stimulating innovation and growth. Most fundamental to these goals are the sweeping changes made to the Company Act, Taiwan’s basic law governing business operations, that were passed by the Legislative Yuan in a late session on July 5 and promulgated into law on August 1.

To help AmCham members and guests better understand the scale and implications of these amendments, AmCham Taipei’s Tax Committee invited Chen Yen-po, Executive Specialist with the Department of Commerce under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), to host an explanatory seminar in the Chamber’s Lincoln Room on September 13. Chen and the MOEA worked closely not only with the Legislative Yuan but also the private sector, including business professionals, legal experts, and academics, on enacting the amendments. Chen noted that 148 articles to the Company Act were amended, with at least four articles deleted and replaced.

From left to right: Chen Yen-po, Executive Specialist with the Department of Commerce under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and AmCham Taipei’s Insurance Committee Co-Chair Dylan Tyson, President & CEO, Prudential Life Insurance Company of Taiwan Inc.

Key amendments are intended to:

  • Enhance business transparency by clarifying reporting obligations and abolishing anonymous “bearer shares.”
  • Improve the environment for startups by permitting the issuance of non-par-value shares, as well as permitting multiple distribution of cash dividends throughout the year.
  • Enable greater flexibility in business operations by furthering the gradual digitalization of documentation, increasing the range of rewards possible for talent, and reducing restrictions on directorships.
  • Strengthen shareholder protections by amending rules on shareholder meetings and the nomination of directors.
  • Improve corporate governance through enhancing disclosure requirements and access to shareholder rosters.
  • Allow the registration of company names in English so as to help foster international business operations and branding.

Chen added that the MOEA is currently in the process of developing the regulatory framework that will see these amendments enter into force. His presentation was followed by a lively Q&A session.

The Lincoln Room is made possible by the generosity of a number of sponsoring companies:

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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. 

CSR Forum Focuses on Social Enterprises

Describing social enterprises as an “important part of Taiwan’s soft power,” Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister, hailed their ability to meld the pursuit of social interests and business profits – forces usually thought of as being in conflict – to facilitate the search for common shared values and solutions. She made her remarks as the keynote speaker at the 2018 edition of AmCham Taipei’s annual CSR Forum, held at the Grand Hyatt Taipei.

Social enterprises are defined as organizations that apply business solutions to social problems.

“Treat social issues as opportunities, not roadblocks,” advised Tang. “And no matter what you do, seek to build off of the energy of those around you.”

Other speakers at the forum were Sabrina Chen, CEO of Flow Inc., the first Taiwanese social enterprise; Stephanie Chan, CEO of Blueseeds, producer of 100% environmentally friendly household products; and Jianjia “Ajia” Gong, founder and Veterinary Officer of Pure Milk Ltd., a platform that connects dairy farmers and consumers.

Chen introduced Flow’s efforts to assist the disabled after rounds of interviewing people with disabilities showed that unemployment levels in this segment of the population are much higher than government statistics indicate. She noted that the disabled fall into one of three categories:

“They’re either functional enough to get jobs, so dysfunctional they qualify for government support, or they’re in between and neglected.”

This third group became Flow’s target population. “They very much want to work, and they are able to,” said Chen. “But they’re being displaced in [the service] industry, where they are competing with other disadvantaged people – those with low income, the elderly, and young people with little education. We asked ourselves: ‘What kinds of tech won’t become obsolete? How can we create opportunities where the weak don’t displace the weak?’ You need something that is sustainable and scalable.”

After some investigation, she settled on offering services in Building Information Modeling (BIM) as Flow’s first effort to provide employment opportunities for the disabled. “It’s the process of building a digital representation of a physical structure before you start building the actual thing,” Chen explains. She notes that you “need a group of people to do it, it’s a skill that can be learned, and it’s something that will always be necessary.”

Stressing the need for social enterprises to be financially viable, Stephanie Chan discussed Blueseeds’ difficult first three years when it was rapidly burning cash. “Because we want to stick to both 100% natural products and production processes, we can’t rely on standard farming practices that involve pesticides and heavy machinery,” she explained. “So our work is labor intensive, and our product was being eaten up by the birds and insects in the ecosystem.”

Cautioning persistence, she notes that many organic farmers give up within the first three years. In Blueseeds’ case, it only became profitable after three years, and since then the return on investment has been high. The message: perseverance pays off.

The advice from Pure Milk’s Gong was that “growth will come organically if you find the right partners with similar values.” But you “have to take time to understand what potential partners value, since sometimes what people say they value is different from what they really do.” For Pure Milk the key values are taking proper care of the dairy cows, practicing eco-friendly farming, and producing milk of the highest quality.

Gong said the idea for starting Pure Milk came after he noticed the large disparity in how well dairy farms were managed in Taiwan, yet “milk from farms that pay attention to animal welfare and environmental protection was worth the same as milk from farms that don’t.” The enterprise is partnering with four farms that share its high standards, helping them market their product to ensure they receive the return they deserve.

“As it turns out,” says Gong, pampered animals produce better milk.”

From left to right: AmCham’s CSR Committee Co-Chair Lume Liao, Deputy Secretary-General, Association of Chain and Franchise Promotion; Aga (龔建嘉), Founder and Veterinarian of I Love Milk (鮮乳坊); Stephanie Chan, Chief Executive Officer of Blueseeds (芙彤園); Audrey Tang, Minister without Portfolio of the Executive Yuan; Sabrina Chen, Chief Executive Officer of Flow (若水); CSR Committee Co-Chair Fupei Wang, Managing Director of Ogilvy PR; and AmCham Taipei President William Foreman.

Interested in attending our events? Join us at other upcoming events, click here.

Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.


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