Each spring when The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham Taipei) publishes the latest edition of its Taiwan White Paper, it reviews the issues raised by its various committees in the previous year’s edition. The committees assign each issue a number representing the degree of progress over the past year. A (1) is the highest rating, signifying that “conclusive action has been taken on the issue, with a fair and transparent record of implementation; it is no longer considered a problem.” The other rankings are (2) “In Good Progress: the issue is currently receiving satisfactory follow-up action from the government,” (3) “Under Observation: the government has given the issue some early attention, but it is too early to assess the prospects for resolution,” (4) “Stalled: no substantial discernible progress has occurred,” and (5) “Dropped: although not resolved, the issue is no longer a committee priority.”
For only the second time since AmCham Taipei began tracking the White Paper results in 2007, this past year not a single issue – out of the total of 80 suggestions from the committees on how to improve the business environment – was rated as completely resolved. That fact was mentioned in the press conference the Chamber held on June 8 to launch the 2017 White Paper, and it was cited prominently in many of the media reports that followed.
The response from the government’s highest levels was immediate and positive. President Tsai Ing-wen took a personal interest, and Vice Minister Kung Ming-hsin of the National Development Council (NDC) paid a call at the AmCham office with several of his colleagues to discuss how the government and the Chamber could better coordinate to ensure that the concerns of the multinational business community as reflected in the Taiwan White Paper receive due attention by the various government ministries and agencies.
The result of the discussion was Vice Minister Kung’s proposal to convene a meeting between the NDC and AmCham staffs each quarter to review the status of the White Paper issues, with the first such session scheduled for late this month. NDC has also established an internal online platform within government to enable each agency to regularly update its progress in responding to the issues. At the end of a year, prior to publication of a new edition of the Taiwan White Paper, a final meeting will examine the outcome of the process with an eye to identifying both successes and any deficiencies that may need to be remedied.
In the interest of efficiency, the review process will focus first on two sets of issues. One consists of the eight suggestions from the 2016 White Paper that received a (2) rating as showing good progress. The other is the 12 priority issues pinpointed in the 2017 White Paper in the areas of asset management, banking, capital markets, cosmetics regulation, human resources, insurance, intellectual property, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, retail, technology, and travel and tourism.
Although the zero-resolution record this past year was disappointing, it might be partially explained by the newness in office of the Tsai administration and the time needed to become familiar with the issues. AmCham Taipei is highly encouraged by the initiative now being shown by the government in tackling these issues, and looks forward to a year of much greater strides in areas of concern to business and the economy.