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Building Momentum for a Taiwan-U.S. BTA

The current unprecedented opportunities for business and technological cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S. was the theme of a Taiwan-U.S. Business Roundtable this morning co-organized by the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, Taiwan (CNAIC) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan. The event was held at the Palais de Chine Hotel.

In his opening remarks, CNAIC Chairman Por-Fong Lin recalled that a year ago this month the two sponsoring organizations issued a joint statement calling on the American and Taiwan governments to begin negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement (BTA). He noted that subsequent developments have improved the environment for taking that step and increased its importance.

Echoing that sentiment, AmCham Chairman CW Chin referred to the current situation as a “special moment in the relationship” between the two countries. The challenges presented by the COVID pandemic only brought them closer together, with Taiwan donating some 10 million surgical masks to the U.S. and the U.S. helping to provide Taiwan with much needed vaccines.

Another positive development – recent revival of the bilateral TIFA process for trade and investment negotiations after a five-year hiatus – was cited by Jen-Ni Yang, Deputy Trade Representative of Taiwan’s Office of Trade Negotiations. Bureau of Foreign Trade Director General Cynthia Kiang stressed the increasingly close cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S. in helping maintain strong and stable supply chains.

A keynote speech by Professor Philip Yang of National Taiwan University, a former Deputy Secretary General of Taiwan’s National Security Council, discussed other favorable trends, including signs that as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy the U.S. is paying greater attention to Taiwan’s strategic value. At the same time, he noted pressures arising from the growing U.S.-China economic competition, especially in the technology sphere.

In a roundtable discussion moderated by Regent Taipei Executive Chairman Steven Pan, business executives from both domestic and multinational companies contributed their expertise regarding the industries regarded as having the greatest potential for collaboration between U.S. and Taiwan companies – semiconductors and other ICT/5G-related products, medical technology and other healthcare items, electric vehicles (EV), and the energy and chemical sectors.

Pan summarized the panel’s key recommendations as follows:

  • The Taiwan and U.S. governments should regularly coordinate regarding industrial policy and promote strategic public-private partnerships on critical supply chains for the ICT 5G, medical technology, and EV sectors.
  • U.S. companies should leverage Taiwan’s sophisticated manufacturing platform to create a regional technology hub for Asia.
  • Taiwan and the U.S. should take advantage of the Taiwanese talent pool in both Taiwan and the U.S. in support of a manufacturing renaissance.

The semiconductor field is considered particularly promising for U.S.-Taiwan cooperation because of the complementary nature of the industries on the two sides, said John Chen, Senior Director of the Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC) of the Institute for Information Industry. Taiwan is strong in the foundry and packing/testing segments, while the U.S. historically dominates the design and marketing functions.

A session moderated by Peter Huang, Secretary General of the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei, featured a special presentation by AmCham Taiwan President Andrew Wylegala introducing the concept of a Taiwan Commercial Initiative (TCI). The Initiative would seek to promote a series of concrete steps that hopefully would lead to a BTA.

A corollary initiative was set out by former AmCham Chairman and President Leo Seewald, who advocated conclusion of a bilateral tax agreement between Taiwan and the U.S. to increase certainty for business, boost investment, and reduce tax disputes.

Closing remarks by the two business organizations emphasized their commitment to continue working together to achieve the goal of upgrading bilateral economic relations through a BTA.

持續推動美台雙邊貿易協定

適逢臺美商業與科技領域合作前所未有的時機點,中華民國工商協進會與臺灣美國商會於臺北君品酒店舉辦「臺美企業圓桌論壇」,探討如何持續強化臺美間的經貿關係。

工商協進會林伯豐理事長於開幕致詞時說,想起去年此時,兩個單位發表共同聲明,呼籲美國和台灣政府開始就雙邊貿易協定(BTA)進行談判。他指出,發出聲明後,臺美關係朝著更好的方向發展,顯示聯合聲明的重要性。

呼應林理事長的談話,美國商會金奇偉會長表示,目前臺美關係正處在一個特殊的時刻。在COVID-19疫情中,臺灣多次捐助醫療口罩至美國,美國也提供疫苗支援,疫情反而促使兩國互動更為緊密。

行政院貿易談判辦公室副總談判代表楊珍妮表示,暫停五年的美國台灣貿易暨投資架構協定(TIFA)於日前重起談判,也代表臺美關係的一項正面發展。國貿局江文若局長強調,逐漸緊密的臺美合作關係,有助於維持供應練的穩定與韌性。

國家安全委員會前副秘書長、台灣大學教授楊永明在專題演講中提到,美國更加重視台灣在印太架構下的戰略價值,以及美中經濟競爭下,科技與技術領域帶給臺灣的壓力,等值得關注的雙邊關係正向發展趨勢。

由晶華酒店集團潘思亮董事長主持的圓桌討論中,來自國內和跨國公司的高階經理人交流,發表他們認為美臺合作下最有發展潛能領域的看法,像是半導體、資通訊、5G、醫療科技、電動車、能源與化學等產業。

潘思亮董事長總結會議的三大重點:

  • 台灣與美國政府應定期合作,針對資通訊、5G、醫療科技及電動車等關鍵產業,商討政策,並促進公私部門策略聯盟。
  • 美國企業應善用台灣成熟的製造產業,作為亞洲地區的科技中心。
  • 台灣與美國雙邊應善用台灣人才,以活化製造產業。

資訊工業策進會陳子昂資深總監表示,基於臺美雙邊產業的互補性,半導體為最有合作潛力的領域。臺灣擅長代工、包裝與測試,美國在設計與市場開發上則具有長期優勢。

臺北市進出口公會秘書長黃文榮在論壇中指出,希望以簽訂臺美雙邊貿易協定為目標,持續推動臺美企業交流與合作。美國商會執行長魏立安則在簡報中介紹商會於今年提出的臺灣商業計畫,希望跨大公私部門合作並透過具體步驟促成臺美雙邊貿易協定。

美國商會前會長李豪指出,洽簽臺美租稅協定將有助於建立更友善的商業環境,降低經營的不確定性、提升投資與減少稅務爭議。

工商協進會與美國商會在閉幕致詞時表示,未來雙方將持續合作,共同努力促成臺美雙邊貿易協定。

Taiwan-USA Trade and Investment Networking Center Opens in Taipei

AmCham Taipei on December 18 participated in the opening ceremony of the Taiwan-USA Trade and Investment Networking Center. The center is the result a collaborative effort between the government-sponsored Taiwan External Trade and Development Council (TAITRA), the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the American State Offices Association (ASOA), and AmCham Taipei. It is designed to strengthen commercial ties between Taiwan and the U.S. by facilitating cooperation between business partners, and offering advisory, analysis, and referral services, among other functions.

TAITRA Chairman James Huang delivered the ceremony’s opening speech, highlighting the special partnership between Taiwan and the U.S., which he said has “enabled Taiwan to be one of the most productive members of the global economy.” In order to take this relationship to the next level, Huang said, a channel was needed to advance comprehensive coordination among Taiwanese and U.S. businesses. Out of this necessity, the idea for the center was born.

In his remarks, AIT Director Brent Christensen stressed the vision for the center as “a one-stop, all-purpose platform to advise and assist Taiwan and American enterprises in expanding two-way trade and investment between the United States and Taiwan.” He emphasized that trade between Taiwan and the U.S. increased by 13.6% in the first 11 months of 2019, and that both partners are important sources of investment for the other. He also stated his desire for the center to play a role in promoting the U.S. government’s SelectUSA Investment Summit, an annual conference held in Washington D.C.

Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua, who gave concluding remarks, pointed to the large amount of return investment by Taiwanese companies that have decided to reshore some of their high-value manufacturing operations from China as a result of the U.S.-China trade dispute. She said this development will make Taiwan an even more attractive location for international trade and investment.

The center is being housed within the TAITRA offices in the International Trade Building, 333 Keelung Rd., Sec. 1, part of the Taipei World Trade Center complex.

 

CPTPP: The Challenges for Taiwan

Following the U.S. withdrawal from the embryonic Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) soon after Donald Trump’s inauguration as President, the other 11 TPP countries decided to maintain the multilateral trade agreement under the revised name of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

As a major trading economy, Taiwan hopes to be able to join the CPTPP when the pact is formally established and opens membership to more countries in a second round. Currently the CPTPP signatories are still in the process of seeking ratification from their various parliaments.

Da-Nien Liu, research fellow at the Regional Development Study Center of the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER) and an expert on regional trade agreements, shared his insights on “The CPTPP: The Challenges for Taiwan” with AmCham Taipei members and guests on May 24 at the  Chamber’s Lincoln Room.  Liu is also a former Deputy Secretary General of the National Security Council during the Ma Ying-jeou administration.

Liu noted that Taiwan will feel an economic impact from CPTPP whether or not it is able to participate in the agreement. If allowed to secure membership, Taiwan will need to liberalize its import regime, which would likely affect the domestic agricultural sector and certain industries. If Taiwan is excluded from CPTPP, the impact would be even greater, affecting the country’s markets in such sectors as plastics, iron and steel (and their products), electrochemical equipment, and auto parts.

The “China Factor” will be a major challenge for Taiwan, Liu said, as Beijing may try to pressure CPTPP members not to admit Taiwan or to block Taiwan’s accession until after China joins the group. Another prospective challenge might be the “down-payment” problem, as CPTPP member countries would likely expect Taiwan to resolve any outstanding trade disputes with them during bilateral talks preceding Taiwan’s entry into the agreement.

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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.

Commerce Department Officials Call at AmCham

Ian Paul Steff, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing in U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, exchanged views with AmCham Taipei representatives during an hour-long meeting in the Chamber’s Lincoln Room on March 22 as part of his six-day visit to Taiwan. Steff was joined by two colleagues: International Trade Specialist Kyle Johnson and Devin A. Horne, Civil Nuclear Trade Specialist.

The AmCham attendees included President William Foreman, Standing Vice Chairman Leo Seewald, Vice Chairman Vincent Shih, Governor Edward Shober, President Wayne Chin and Vice President Richard T.C. Chen of Pacific Engineers & Constructors, Senior Director Don Shapiro, and Senior Director for Government and Public Affairs Amy Chang. Ireas Cook, chief of the Commercial Section at the American Institute in Taiwan, and Mark Lewis, the deputy chief, also attended.

Steff said the U.S. government sees many economic opportunities in Taiwan because of the numerous mutual interests, including such sectors as biotech, energy, and the Internet of Things.

2017 Trade Secrets Act Forum

Taiwan has had Trade Secrets legislation on the books since 1996, but the law has been strengthened substantially in recent years in response to the increased number of cases of theft of confidential commercial information.

On December 6, AmCham Taipei’s Technology Committee and Intellectual Property & Licensing Committee jointly sponsored a seminar at the Westin Taipei to review the latest trends in trade secrets protection. Specialist Chen Hsin-ru (陳信儒) from the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Intellectual Property Office opened the session with a definition of what constitutes a Trade Secret, followed by describing the detailed steps involved in filing a lawsuit if one’s trade secretshave been infringed upon.

Citing real-life cases as examples, Prosecutor Liu Yi-jun (劉怡君) from the Hsinchu District Prosecutors Office shared the process of investigation, including what evidence was required and what could help reinforce a case, as well as what corporations can do to prevent the violation of trade secrets. Special Investigator Pan Ji-xiang (潘季翔) from New Taipei City’s Investigation Bureau concluded the discourse with enforcement and litigation statistics.

From left to right: Speaker Special Investigator Pan of the New Taipei City Investigation Bureau; Speaker Specialist Chen of the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office; Speaker Prosecutor Liu of the Hsinchu District Prosecutors Office; and AmCham IP&L Committee co-chair Peter J. Dernbach of the Winkler Partners law firm.

During the Q&A session, attendees raised numerous questions about the coverage of the Act and its enforcement. This seminar helped build a communications bridge between the business and law enforcement communities in the hope of enhancing regulative efficiency and strengthening the protection of valuable intellectual properties.

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.

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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