We noticed something different in the recently completed 2018 AmCham Taipei Business Climate Survey, summarized in this issue of TOPICS. There’s a sense that progress is beginning to be made in many problem areas.
To be sure, the survey respondents had plenty of concerns. These include the treatment of professional and managerial personnel under current labor laws, and the ability of the regulatory system to meet new challenges in this rapidly changing world. The energy supply is also a big worry.
But survey respondents believe that change is happening. The handling of revisions to the Labor Standards Act is a prime example. When amendments passed in 2016 were criticized both by many employers and employees as too rigid, the government responded by putting a new set of more flexible rules into effect as of this month.
While those changes were a positive move, AmCham business executives who participated in the survey overwhelmingly expressed the opinion that they did not go far enough. In particular, the revisions failed to make a clear distinction between blue-collar and professional/managerial employees in defining working hours and overtime rules. The government appears to have agreed and is currently studying additional provisions that would support the need of an innovation-driven economy to cultivate self-motivated knowledge workers.
Regarding the process for devising and implementing new laws and regulations, the survey showed AmCham members’ appreciation of the steps taken by the government in the past two years to facilitate greater participation by relevant stakeholders and the public at large. The 60-day notice and comment period introduced in October 2016 at AmCham’s encouragement is now a well-established component of the rules-making machinery. The join.gov.tw platform provides an effective channel for public input and monitoring proposed new regulatory initiatives.
Also noteworthy in the Business Climate Survey was the attitude of the multinational corporate executives toward the major development projects being pursued by the government. The 5+2 Innovative Industries Program and the Forward-looking Infrastructure Plan were viewed not only as good for the Taiwan economy but as offering real business opportunities for many companies.
AmCham member companies find Taiwan to be a hospitable environment in which to do business. The workforce is industrious, loyal, and easy to train. Living conditions are excellent. Most companies see good prospects for increasing revenue in the years ahead, and are planning to increase employment accordingly.
AmCham Taipei’s member companies are deeply enmeshed in the fabric of Taiwan society, with some two-thirds of the survey respondents representing companies that have been in operation in Taiwan for more than two decades. As a result, the Chamber and its member companies are eager to see the Taiwan economy prosper. We look forward to heightened partnership with the government in the coming year to make conditions here as attractive as possible both for new investors and enterprises already operating here.