A highlight of my association with AmCham was our work on “Regulatory Coherence,” an umbrella term for efforts to make regulatory environments as participatory and transparent as possible. The result was Taiwan’s adoption of a 60-day Notice & Comment period to help ensure that stakeholders are sufficiently consulted about pending new rules. It was a prime example of how the Chamber seeks to cooperate with the Taiwan government to steadily improve the business climate.
How new regulations are drafted and promulgated can have lasting impact on business operations. No industry or company is unaffected. Analysis of issues raised over the years in AmCham’s Taiwan White Paper has shown that many of the problems were the result of poorly written or hastily adopted regulations – difficulties that could have been avoided with enough time and industry advice. The situation is particularly striking in some sectors – like my industry, medical devices – where it is a challenge for regulations to keep pace with our fast-changing technological world.
For years, Taiwanese ministries and agencies gave stakeholders only a seven-day notice before a new regulation would go into effect. Although the period was later extended to 14 days, it was still not enough for companies to evaluate the prospective changes and prepare their response, especially for multinationals that might need to check with their home offices overseas. Further, even the 14-day rule was not followed consistently, and it was rare for regulators to act on or even acknowledge the comments received.
These days, a 60-day public Notice & Comment period – consistently applied and easily accessed by all – is the gold standard in democratically governed countries. AmCham became aware of the importance of this system during the annual Doorknock in D.C. in 2013. In a meeting with the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), we learned about new U.S. government initiatives to boost Notice & Comment practices around the world, including a preliminary outreach to Taiwan.
AmCham sprang into action to champion a 60-day Notice & Comment period. The results were gratifying, in that we received a highly positive response from both the U.S. and Taiwan governments. The new Tsai administration was ready for greater regulatory transparency and Digital Minister Audrey Tang was poised to apply the most sophisticated online tools to the effort.
The Chamber worked with Taiwan’s Executive branch, AIT, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and others to co-sponsor a groundbreaking “Regulatory Coherence Policy Framework” roundtable in September 2014. We made Notice & Comment a centerpiece of the 2016 Doorknock and carried the message to top leaders in Taiwan at every opportunity. AmCham’s widely read magazine, Taiwan Business TOPICS, ran pieces explaining the concept and goals, while AmCham members were briefed on how they could support the effort and what it would mean for their businesses.
In the end, Taiwan exceeded expectations and emerged as one of the world’s leaders in Regulatory Coherence, leaping from a 14-day to 60-day Notice & Comment requirement, and merging the process into its best-in-class Open Government campaign.
AmCham’s work didn’t stop there. We set up performance trackers to monitor the progress of each Ministry and made Regulatory Coherence an ongoing part of our annual White Paper and other initiatives. We also helped spotlight Taiwan’s success, sharing news with thought leaders and policymakers in the U.S.
The success of the Notice & Comment campaign was an example of AmCham’s role as one of Taiwan’s most important bridge builders, helping to promote best practices and forge meaningful connections to U.S. institutions. It also reflected Taiwan’s commitment to the highest standards of democratic openness, and showed the eagerness of U.S. counterparts to support Taiwan’s efforts in partnership with AmCham.