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Minister John Deng Addresses AmCham Luncheon

AmCham Taipei was honored to invite Minister without Portfolio John Deng, one of the Taiwan government’s chief experts on international trade, to speak on U.S.-Taiwan economic and trade relations at a special luncheon held in the Mandarin Oriental’s Grand Ballroom on October 22. Minister Deng previously served as chief representative at the Office of Trade Negotiations (2007-2008) and as minister of economic affairs (2014-2016). The Chamber was therefore delighted to have him share his insights on the current U.S.-Taiwan relationship, as well as on the prospects for a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) between the two partners.

Deng stressed the strong and stable nature of trade and investment between Taiwan and the U.S. Taiwan’s exports to the U.S. rose by 7.1% between January and September this year, despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also remarked that the economies of Taiwan and the U.S. – particularly in the areas of semiconductors and IC products – are highly complementary, making them natural trade partners.

No relationship is without its challenges, however. Although President Tsai Ing-wen removed a longstanding trade barrier when she announced in August that restrictions on the import of certain types of U.S. beef and pork would be eased starting next year, the move has met with some public criticism. In particular, the lack of response from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative has left some questioning the value of ending the import restrictions. The USTR’s focus on implementing the phase one trade deal with China may have been a factor in the agency’s silence, Deng noted.

Nevertheless, many positive signs have been coming from Washington recently. Deng highlighted evidence of bipartisan Congressional support for a U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement, including a joint letter signed by 161 U.S. Representatives and another signed by 50 Senators calling on the USTR to begin negotiations for a BTA with Taiwan. And the recent high-level visits to Taiwan by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and that of Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith J. Krach indicate significant progress in the U.S.-Taiwan relationship.

These developments can serve as a solid foundation for future relations, regardless of the result of the U.S. presidential election in November, Deng concluded.

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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.

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.

 

AmCham’s “Underground Ambassador” recalls the crisis of 1979

AmCham Taipei held a special luncheon on April 18 at the Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, to reflect on the important role it played in contributing to the drafting of the Taiwan Relations Act 40 years ago.

We were honored to have former Chairman Robert Parker (office title then President) back to reminisce about the events following the U.S. decision to sever ties with Taiwan. He showed video clips of his testimony before U.S. Congressional committees in February 1979 that stressed the need to strengthen the draft legislation prepared by the Carter administration to govern future U.S. Taiwan relations. AmCham urged that the bill include U.S. support for Taiwan’s security and establish a clear legal foundation for interaction between the two governments.

Watch more clippings of Parker’s testimony: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

In addition, AmCham at that time stepped forward to ensure that various U.S. community institutions, including the Taipei American School, American Club, English-language radio station, and youth organizations could continue to operate smoothly after derecognition. It’s a period the Chamber looks back on with pride, and one of the prime examples of how the organization works for the best interests of both the U.S. and Taiwan.

Robert Parker was welcomed by AmCham President William Foreman, former Presidents, Taiwan Business TOPICS Editor-in-chief Don Shapiro, and members of the Chamber.

2019 Hsieh Nien Fan: A Night for Commemoration

AmCham Taipei’s 2019 Hsieh Nien Fan banquet, held April 10 at the Grand Hyatt Taipei, paid tribute to the Taiwan Relations Act on its 40th anniversary. The law, which has enabled U.S.-Taiwan relations to continue smoothly without formal diplomatic recognition, was signed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter on exactly the same date in 1979.

The banquet has been held annually since 1970 as a way to express AmCham’s thanks to the Taiwan government for its cooperation in the past year. This year’s event was attended by 682 AmCham members and guests, including 143 government officials.

The keynote speakers were President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Meale, with additional remarks by AmCham Chairman Leo Seewald (see the full remarks here) and American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen. Video messages on congratulations were shown from four U.S. Senators: Corey Gardner (R-CO), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Besides the President, the high-ranking Taiwanese officials in attendance included Secretary General of the National Security Council David Lee, Minister without Portfolio John Deng, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, Minister of the National Development Council Chen Mei-ling, Chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission Wellington Koo, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee, Minister of Justice Shawn Tsai, and several members of the Legislative Yuan.

The New York Times reported on President Tsai’s comments in her speech that Taiwan needs to continue diversifying Taiwan’s economy to prevent over-reliance on China. “We must make sure Taiwan’s economic and security position remains on the right track,” it quoted her as saying.

The President’s speech also stressed the importance of the government’s relationship with AmCham Taipei. “We will continue to work hand-in-hand to find ways to bring more jobs and investment to Taiwan,” she said.

Meale’s remarks cited the remarkably strong commercial relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan. “It is in the interest of the United States to have such an important trade and investment partner that is notable both as a democracy and as a well-run economy,” he told the audience.

In his comments, Christensen noted that Taiwan is the eleventh largest trading partner of the United states, and also “one of the key players in the high-tech global supply chain.”

2019 Hsieh Nien Fan – Toast

The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Peter Dernbach.

A host of generous sponsors helped make the event possible: Platinum Sponsor Citi; Gold Sponsors Corning, Franklin Templeton Investments, and Standard Chartered Bank; Wine & Liquor Sponsors Diageo and Sergio Valente; Silver Sponsors 3M, HSBC, JTI, and Micron; Bronze Sponsors Air Canada, Air Products, Bechtel, Dun & Bradstreet, GE, Philip Morris International, Semi, and Versum Materials; and General Sponsors Invisalign, Amgen, Grand Hyatt Taipei, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, P&G, and the Tobacco Institute of the Republic of China.

Richard Bush on U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

Richard Bush, one of the leading authorities on U.S.-China-Taiwan relations, spoke on that subject to AmCham Taipei members and guests on October 25, filling the Lincoln Room to capacity. Besides his prepared remarks, which included a salute to AmCham for its contributions to fostering strong U.S.-Taiwan relations, he took questions during a lengthy Q&A period.

A former Chairman and Managing Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (1997-2002), Bush is currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. where he holds the Chen-fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies. Prior to AIT and Brookings in 2002, he worked on Taiwan and other Asia issues at the House Foreign Affairs Committee (1983-1995) and National Intelligence Council (1995-1997).

Bush is the author of such books as At Cross Purposes: U.S.-Taiwan Relations Since 1942, Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait, and Uncharted Strait: The Future of China-Taiwan Relations.

From left to right: Richard C. Bush, Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy of Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution and AmCham Taipei President William Foreman

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

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. 

AmCham Committees Brief U.S. Group

A U.S. team led by Acting Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Terry McCartin arrived in Taiwan on September 11 for consultations with their Taiwan government counterparts on a variety of issues related to bilateral trade and investment. Others members of the group included Tsering Dhongthog, USTR’s Director for Taiwan Affairs, and representatives from the Departments of State, Commerce, and Agriculture.

Co-chairs and other representatives from AmCham’s Medical Devices, Pharmaceutical, Retail, Cosmetics, Agro-Chemical, and Intellectual Property & Licensing Committees provided the visitors with briefings on the current status of their Taiwan White Paper and other issues.

New AIT Director Meets with Board Members

Brent Christensen, the newly arrived Director of the American Institute in Taipei, met with members of the AmCham Taipei Board on Sept. 5 to discuss the U.S. government’s new Indo-Pacific Strategy as well as current trends and concerns in the technology, biomedicine, infrastructure, and healthcare sectors. Deputy Director Ray Greene and representatives from AIT’s economic, commercial, and agriculture sections also participated. Attending from the AmCham side were Chairman Albert Chang; Vice Chairman Vincent Shih; President Bill Foreman; Governors Anita Chen, Wayne Chin, William Farrell, Revital Shpangental Golan, Ed Shober, and Daniel Tseng; Supervisor Joyce Lee; and Senior Directors Don Shapiro and Amy Chang.

AmCham Meets with Washington Visitors

Over breakfast at the Grand Hyatt Taipei on June 13, members of the AmCham Taipei leadership met with Assistant Secretary of State for Educational & Cultural Affairs Marie Royce and other U.S. dignitaries who were in Taiwan for the dedication ceremony of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) office complex.

Besides Assistant Secretary Royce, the visitors included Caroline Casagrande, Special Advisor to the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs; Washington-based AIT Chairman James Moriarty; AIT Washington Managing Director John Norris; and State Department Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Office of Taiwan Coordination Director Jim Heller. From AIT in Taipei, Economic Chief Jeff Horwitz and Deputy Economic Chief Mike Pignatello also attended.

The group was welcomed by AmCham Taipei Chairman Albert Chang; AmCham President William Foreman; Former AmCham Chairman Thomas H. McGowan; AmCham Board members Joyce Lee, Tim Shields, and Daniel Tseng; AmCham Senior Director Don Shapiro; and AmCham Senior Director of Government and Public Affairs Amy Chang.

The breakfast discussion centered around the recent progress in AmCham’s White Paper issues, as well as opportunities for expanding educational and cultural exchanges between Taiwan and the United States.

Brookings Delegation Visits AmCham Taipei

A delegation from the prominent Washington D.C.-based think tank The Brookings Institution called on AmCham Taipei on January 24 for an exchange of views on the status and prospects of U.S.-Taiwan economic relations. The Brookings group was led by Senior Fellow David Dollar, a former World Bank Director for China and Mongolia. It also included Ryan Hass, a former staff member of the National Security Council; Robert Wang, a former Deputy Director of the American Institute in Taiwan; Research Assistant Maeve Whelan-Wuest; and Kelsey Broderick of the Eurasia Group.

They met with AmCham Taipei President William Foreman, Former Chamber Chairmen Tom McGowan and Dan Silver; and AmCham Taipei Senior Directors Don Shapiro and Amy Chang.

“Memo from Taipei” Goes to International Contacts

This month AmCham Taipei sent out the latest edition of our periodic Memo from Taipei designed to update the Chamber’s friends and contacts abroad about the latest developments here. The Memo went to a mailing list of about 135 people, including Washington-based government affairs representatives from our member companies, as well as U.S. government officials, think tank scholars, and others who follow U.S.-Taiwan relations closely.

If your company has a Washington representative that you would like added to the mailing list, please let us know.

The latest Memo announced the appointment of William Foreman as the new President of AmCham Taipei, Albert Chang’s reelection as Chairman for 2018, and the list of other Standing Officers for this year. It also conveyed the following information:

Progress in 2017

  • The Legislative Yuan finished the year on a high note by passing long-awaited amendments to the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act instituting a system of Patent Linkage for pharmaceuticals for the first time. The proposal had been in AmCham Taipei’s Taiwan White Paper for more than a decade, as well as on the agenda of the bilateral TIFA talks between Taiwan and the U.S. The new law creates a mechanism to ensure that generic forms of drugs still under valid patent in Taiwan cannot legally enter the market, and represents a major advance for Taiwan’s intellectual property rights protection.
  • At AmCham Taipei’s urging, the Executive Yuan in October 2016 increased the notice and comment period for new regulations and trade-related legislation from a mere 14 days to a full 60 days, except in cases of emergency. During the past year the Chamber, working together with the National Development Council (NDC), has been tracking the degree of adherence to that provision – and has seen a steady increase in compliance. AmCham’s emphasis is now on encouraging stakeholders to submit their comments and government agencies to provide meaningful feedback. If such dialogue can become the norm, many of the past difficulties in the regulatory regime could be prevented, the Chamber believes.
  • When the 2017 Taiwan White Paper was issued last June, it was disclosed that none of the 80 White Paper issues from the previous edition had been fully resolved. In response, the Taiwan government scheduled a series of quarterly meetings with AmCham committee representatives to discuss outstanding White Paper items in hopes of raising the success rate. So far two such meetings have been held, presided over by an NDC Vice Minister. Final results will be analyzed at the end of a one-year cycle.

 

2018 Advocacy Items

  • AmCham Taipei was disappointed that President Trump chose to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as the Chamber viewed the TPP as important for American leadership in the Asia Pacific and hoped that Washington would support Taiwan’s desire to entire the TPP in a second round. Given the President’s aversion to multilateral trade agreements, however, we now urge the United States to consider entering into a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan, its 10th largest trading partner. We are convinced that such negotiations are the best way to resolve existing bilateral trade issues and to deepen the economic cooperation between the two countries. From both an economic and strategic point of view, this step would be in the best interests of the U.S. At the same time, AmCham Taipei encourages Taiwan to seek eventual membership in the apparent successor to the TPP, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
  • The Chamber’s member companies, particularly those engaged in high-tech manufacturing, continue to be concerned about the future sufficiency, reliability, and cost of electricity in this market. The Taiwan government has committed itself to shutting down all nuclear power plants by 2025, at the same time sharply cutting back on carbon emissions. AmCham Taipei does not take issue with the aims of the policy, but questions remain as to whether it can be implemented within the designated timeframe given the many challenges involved in rapidly expanding reliance on wind and solar power, as well as the infrastructure to receive imported LNG. For their business planning, both multinational and domestic companies need a clearer energy roadmap from the authorities.
  • The amended Labor Standards Act that took effect last year – instituting new rules for working hours, overtime, and other working conditions – was highly controversial and left both employers and employees dissatisfied. A revised version now before the Legislative Yuan may be a slight improvement but does not tackle what AmCham Taipei considers to be the crux of the problem – the failure to distinguish between professional/managerial personnel and blue-collar workers. Taiwan’s avowed aspiration to develop an innovation-driven economy will not be furthered by treating knowledge workers the same way as those on a factory production line, for example requiring them to clock in and clock out. In fact, that requirement is wholly impractical in an age of global interconnectedness and will constitute a deterrent to investment.