Taiwan foresees heightened business opportunities, especially in areas related to the digital economy, green energy, and the biomedical sector.
The annual Taiwan Business Alliance Conference organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) is an effort to stimulate interest in investing in Taiwan among foreign and overseas Chinese enterprises.
The 2017 Conference, held October 6 at the Taipei International Convention Center, opened with a pledge by President Tsai Ing-wen that her government is working to reduce regulatory barriers and make Taiwan more “investment-friendly.” With Taiwan’s key economic indicators now “trending upward” and the economy “regaining its vitality and momentum for growth,” she said, now is a fertile time for investment.
Vice Economics Minister Kung Ming-hsin introduced the major economic-development programs being carried out by the government, particularly the emphasis on the Internet of Things (IoT), green energy, and biomedicine as part of the “5+2 Innovative Industries” project.
In the keynote address, Erix Yu, president of Applied Materials Taiwan, the world’s leading semiconductor and display equipment company, underscored the huge business opportunities for Taiwan being created due to the “data explosion” emerging in the current era of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. He referred to data as “the new oil.”
During a panel discussion, Microsoft Assistant General Counsel Vincent Shih expanded on that theme by stressing the importance of the “digital transformation” now underway, affecting virtually every aspect of life. That Microsoft chose Taiwan as one of two sites worldwide to establish an IoT Innovation Center indicates the crucial role this economy can play in this development due to its strong foundation in smart manufacturing and good intellectual property rights protection.
But the digital transformation also poses challenges, Shih said. So as to create more business opportunities and attract more foreign investment, he urged Taiwan to remove existing obstacles to how industry can effectively leverage data.
Another panelist, Daniel Brindle, a vice president for government affairs with GlaxoSmithKline, spoke about the global pharmaceutical industry’s positive experience in conducting clinical trials in Taiwan, citing the well-trained healthcare professionals, centralized National Health Insurance system, and IPR protection. Use of AI should further reduce clinical trial costs, he said.
The third panelist, Motokazu Inaba, chairman of Mitsubishi Electric Taiwan, praised Taiwan’s reasonable production costs, good quality, agile and adaptive small and medium-sized enterprises, and well-organized supply chains.
The afternoon session consisted of three presentations by foreign executives on their companies’ experience in Taiwan, with two of the presentations related to Taiwan’s aim to dramatically revamp its energy structure between now and 2025. Venkat Kannan, president of GE Power’s Gas Power Systems, Asia Pacific unit, highlighted the opportunities for increased use of LNG in power generation, while Hajir Naghdy, head of Macquarie Capital, Asia and the Middle East, described Taiwan’s ambitious plans to develop offshore wind power as a vigorous potential driver of economic activity and foreign investment.
The presentation by Kenichi Tanaka, president of Fujifilm Electronic Materials Taiwan, outlined Taiwan’s competitive costs in factory construction, manufacturing, and transportation.
The Conference also recognized 22 foreign companies that have signed Letters of Intent with MOEA to invest in Taiwan or increase their existing investment. The group included AmCham Taipei member companies Covestro, Evonik, Ikea, and Siemens.