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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.

Meeting with Senator Steve Daines

Representatives from AmCham Taipei met with visiting U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MO) at the American Institute in Taiwan during his one-day trip to Taiwan on September 22. Daines is the only member of the Senate with experience working in Asia, and he expressed a keen interest in strengthening U.S.-Taiwan relations.

Representatives from AmCham Taipei met with U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MO)

A chemical engineering graduate of Montana State University, Daines spent 13 years with Procter & Gamble, including six years living in Hong Kong and China  spearheading P&G’s entry into the China market. His business experience also includes three years with his family’s construction company in Montana, and service with RightNow Technologies, a cloud-based software company, as Vice President of North America Sales and Vice President of the Asia-Pacific division.

Attending the meeting from AmCham were Standing Vice Chairman Dan Silver, President Andrea Wu, Former Chairmen Paul Cassingham and Thomas McGowan, Governor and Human Resources Committee Co-chair Seraphim Ma, and Senior Directors Don Shapiro and Amy Chang.

2016 AmCham Taipei Washington Doorknock

2016 DK Senator John McCain

AmCham Taipei conducted its 2016 Doorknock mission to Washington D.C. from June 20 to 24. Pictured above: Arizona Senator John McCain with AmCham Chairman Dan Silver and other members of the group.

This year’s AmCham Taipei Doorknock delegation, led by Chairman Dan Silver and President Andrea Wu, stressed the importance – for both Taiwan and the U.S. – of Taiwan entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) when it expands beyond the original 12 members.

At some points dividing into teams, the group met with representatives from 48 different offices and organizations, calling on members of the U.S. Executive Branch, U.S. Congress, the Taiwan Representative, and others. (See the full list below)

Doorknock Delegation with Congressman Matt Salmon (Arizona-R)

Delegation members with Congressman Matt Salmon (R-Arizona)

Key Takeaways

  • Although free-trade agreements have been the object of much criticism in the U.S. during this election year, the U.S. government remains committed to seeing the pact come into being. Progress is being made toward gaining broader U.S. industry support by resolving points of dissatisfaction that sectors such as pharmaceuticals and financial services have had with the TPP text.
  • A Congressional vote on TPP in a year-end “lame duck” session is a strong possibility, though not a certainty. Otherwise the vote would need to be either early in the next presidential term or after the 2018 mid-term elections.
  • Serious consideration of second-round TPP candidates will need to wait for the agreement’s entry into force. But Taiwan and Korea are being widely mentioned, along with the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Colombia.
  • China is already making known its opposition to Taiwan entering into TPP. Taiwan therefore needs to take urgent steps to demonstrate its qualifications – beyond any doubt – by showing firm commitment to international standards and practices. It also needs to work on resolving outstanding major trade issues with all 12 TPP countries.
2016 DK Ambassador Holleyman- USTR (1)

The delegation met with Ambassador Robert Holleyman, the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative

  • Preparations are under way for the annual U.S.-Taiwan TIFA talks to be held in Washington in the second half of the year. The U.S. side emphasizes the importance of making concrete progress on the various issues that will be on the table.
  • AmCham Taipei’s proposal for a second-generation Administrative Procedure Act met with enthusiastic support from many offices. There is appreciation that a single notification platform for proposed regulatory changes, ample time for the public to comment, and a mechanism for government agencies to respond would usher in a much more transparent and effective regulatory regime.
  • The U.S. government has been increasingly engaging with Taiwan in a wide variety of spheres. As the U.S. moves to devote more attention to Asia and the Tsai administration seeks to diversify Taiwan’s trade and investment, there should be more and more opportunities for productive cooperation between Washington and Taipei.
Delegation with Representative Erik Paulsen (Minessota)

Team members with Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-Minnesota)

 

Visits

U.S. Executive Branch

  • National Security Council
  • Department of State
    • Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
    • Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
  • Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)
  • Department of Commerce – International Trade Administration
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • American Institute in Taiwan/Washington
2016 DK Asst Secretary Kumar- Commerce

At the Department of Commerce, the group met with Arun Kumar, the Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion

U.S. Congress

  • Offices of 10 Senators and 15 Representatives
  • House Ways and Means Committee staff
  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff
  • Congressional Research Service
2016 DK Senator Grassley

AmCham President Andrea Wu and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley

Other Organizations

  • AdvaMed
  • Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Brookings Institution
  • Council for Strategic and International Studies
  • DPP Liaison in Washington
  • Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT)
  • National Foreign Trade Council
  • Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • PhRMA
  • Samuels International Associate
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • U.S.-Taiwan Business Council
  • U.S. -Taiwan Business Forum
  • U.S. Green Building Council

Taiwan Representative

  • Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office