The end of summer always seems to come with a lot of changes.
We are pleased that the Taiwan government has finally relaxed its rules with respect to the importation of American pork and beef products. This issue has long been a sticking point for the U.S. government, and it is important that progress is now being made to resolve it. The U.S. pork and beef issue has also been used as political fodder for both sides of the political aisle in Taiwan ever since the DPP under Chen Shui-bian sought to lift a total ban on American beef imports in the early 2000s, and Ma Ying-jeou later relaxed restrictions further during his own tenure in office.
It is clear from past experience that tackling this issue is not without some political cost; however, in the larger scheme of Taiwan’s overall economic prosperity, it needed to be addressed. I also believe that the Tsai administration will take the necessary steps to support the domestic industry and protect its consumer base.
With the lifting of these restrictions we are already seeing a lot more background activity and statements from offices on both sides that indicate Taiwan could finally be on its way to negotiation of a Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) with the U.S. Statements by senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also bolster this view. The Chamber has long supported a U.S.-Taiwan BTA as such an agreement would make it easier for our members to do business and would strengthen the already robust economic ties between the U.S. and Taiwan. Taiwan has already moved from the U.S.’ 11th largest trading partner to its 9th since 2018, and I am confident that a BTA would only help to accelerate this trend.
We have also had some changes at the Chamber. With William Foreman’s departure, the Board of Directors asked me to step in and take over the role of President on an interim basis. As a past Chairman of AmCham Taipei, I am familiar with most of its members, have had interactions with many of the government officials the Chamber works with – both on the U.S. and Taiwan sides – and I know the Chamber’s staff well. As a longtime member, I also have a good idea of what members want and expect from AmCham. In this respect, I will focus my efforts on meeting these expectations while at the same time helping the Board find a new permanent President.
It is my honor to serve the Chamber in this capacity.