AmCham Taipei reported today that 11 of the 83 issues in its 2017 Taiwan White Paper have been resolved – the most of any year since the organization started tracking the results in 2004. Another record 21 issues were showing good progress.
“The major turnaround in 2017 was largely due to unprecedented cooperation with the government,” said Albert Chang, chairman of AmCham Taipei. “In particular, special recognition should go to Chen Mei-ling, minister of the National Development Council. She presided over meetings that delved into each of the 83 issues.”
Despite the positive change, Taiwan’s economy is still far from reaching its potential, said William Foreman, president of AmCham Taipei, which has over 1,000 members from 500 companies.
“The real test of success will be whether the 21 issues that are showing good progress can be checked off as settled in the months ahead,” Foreman said.
The most significant of the resolved issues was the Pharmaceutical Committee’s call for passage of legislation creating a Patent Linkage system, bolstering Taiwan’s IPR protection by helping ensure that patent-infringing drugs are kept off the market.
Other resolved issues included three customs-related topics raised by the Transportation & Logistics Committee, two from the Human Resources Committee, and one each from the Cosmetics, Public Health, Real Estate, Tax, and Technology committees.
Noting the low level of foreign direct investment flowing into Taiwan in recent years compared to neighboring countries, the 2018 White Paper offers suggestions on how to heighten Taiwan’s attractiveness for investors:
- Ensure that the innovative spirit is thoroughly embraced throughout the bureaucracy. The country’s top leaders frequently affirm their commitment to innovation, but the various government ministries and agencies are often resistant to new ideas, products, and services. Taiwan needs to firmly establish itself as a center for innovation and creativity.
- Bring fresh thinking to the treatment of working hours for professional and managerial personnel under the Labor Standards Act (LSA). To meet the needs of both employees and employers in a knowledge-based economy, professional and managerial personnel should have greater flexibility in terms of working-hour regulations than blue-collar workers.
- Provide absolute assurance that Taiwan will continue to have a sufficient, stable, and cost-competitive electrical power supply. Given the plans to end nuclear power generation and drastically reduce carbon emissions by 2025, existing and new investors in manufacturing will have the confidence to proceed with major new projects only if the government can provide detailed plans for energy development under various contingencies.
- Welcome investment from major private equity funds. PE has been a leading source of FDI in the Asia Pacific, but Taiwan has not received a reasonable share because of perceived barriers in this market. Several PE funds are now taking a new look at opportunities here. How regulators respond to their applications will determine whether other cases follow.
- Continue efforts to ensure the transparency and soundness of Taiwan’s rules-making process. The government’s decision in 2016 to extend the standard notice and comment period for new regulations from 14 days to a full 60 days was a major breakthrough. Now it is vital to minimize the permissible exceptions to the 60-day rule and to ensure that all regulations are based on sound scientific evidence and follow standard international practices.
In the Messages to Washington section of the 2018 White Paper, AmCham Taipei urged the U.S. government to adhere to a regular annual schedule for TIFA talks, explore ways to deepen the economic relationship with Taiwan, and utilize the Taiwan Travel Act to send more high-level officials on visits to Taiwan.