Up Close and “Personnel”

After two years of COVID clamp-down, pandemic control relaxations mean that Taiwan’s limbs are gradually regaining circulation. A summary of programs and people impacting AmCham Taiwan over the summer is by now in order.

June saw the rollout of the so-called 3+4 home isolation plan as a gesture of re-engagement, supplemented by July’s elimination of the requirement for inbound travelers to arrive with a negative PCR-test result. While improvements, AmCham members deemed this “too little, too late,” considering the opportunity costs of border closure and Taiwan’s comprehensive immunity and excellent healthcare capacity. 

I expressed that Chamber view in a mid-June interview with Taiwan+ and a letter requested by the National Development Council (NDC) on behalf of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). I further shared with CommonWealth Magazine readers a Chinese translation of my July piece calling for tourism to be treated as a strategic sector, emphasizing that returning to generally visa-free travel is essential to building an industry that projects soft power and smooths out an increasingly skewed income distribution. Great to see progress in these areas following President Tsai’s recent statements calling for the reopening of Taiwan to international tourists and a timeline for loosening border control.

The incremental nature of June’s opening did not deter AmCham Chair Vincent Shih from joining NDC Minister Kung Ming-hsin at the Taiwan NextGen Telecom delegation’s visit to Seattle. What an opportunity for Taiwan tech firms and U.S. companies to collaborate on 5G/6G standards development and expansion under incentives from both governments! 

In the same busy late June, Taiwan’s SelectUSA Summit delegation was the largest for the fourth year running with a record 265 participants. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo joined GlobalWafers CEO Doris Hsu in announcing the biggest deal of the Summit, a US$5 billion facility in Sherman, Texas. The same week, major IC design firm MediaTek announced a design and training center at Purdue University, while Bank of Taiwan held a grand opening in Phoenix, Arizona. Unfortunately, Taiwan workers can’t yet benefit from comparable visits by American investors.

But at least official calls are on the rebound. In July, Vice Chairperson Andrea Wu, Treasurer Terry Tsao, and I met with U.S. Senator Rick Scott to brief him on AmCham’s agenda. Scott is the first visiting U.S. senior official in 18 months to request an AmCham meeting. He showered our 2022 White Paper with praise and shared his desire to continue working with AmCham in his support of Taiwan. Upcoming visitors to Taiwan include former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, and, potentially, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

AmCham evaded infections and logistics challenges by reinstituting our annual summer Doorknock in a virtual format. Vincent Shih led a delegation of 10 core members and many more “drop-ins” over a dozen calls spread over two months. Fruitful conversations were held with, among others, U.S. Representative Steve Chabot and Ambassador Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s representative to the U.S. in Washington.

Delegates called for action on our White Paper, the new U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade, the Technology, Trade, and Investment Collaboration (TTIC) framework, and a bilateral trade agreement. Adding the in-person touch, Governor Cynthia Chyn represented AmCham Taiwan at a separate AmChams of Asia-Pacific physical Washington Doorknock on July 17-19.

The past quarter has also brought changes to the Board and office. We thanked Governor Tim Shields for his tireless service to the Chamber and welcomed Michael Chu of FedEx aboard. Senior Editor of Publications Jeremy Olivier is pursuing new career challenges after nearly three years of precise, eloquent wordsmithing at the helm of Taiwan Business TOPICS. We look forward to continuing to read Jeremy’s material – soon to be polished by his erstwhile associate Julia Bergström, whom we thank for stepping up in an acting capacity. Julia is joined by newly arrived Communications Manager James Hill (replacing the prolific Jess Chen), who joins us (indirectly) from member firm Winkler Partners, where he anchored communications and community relations.

What didn’t change was the consistently excellent output from our Government & Public Affairs (GAPA) shop, a phenomenal Hsieh Nien Fan, and another solid White Paper. Much was owing to the work of Vivian Yang and Rosalyn Wu, two rising stars contracted during our annual winter surge, who also helped our more than two dozen committees stay productive. We wish them well as they advance their careers.

As we search for a new GAPA head, we continue to lean on the masterminds of our events program, Lily Kuan and Joyce Pan, who have stepped into Government Affairs roles. Finally, we’d be lost without our first National Taiwan University (NTU) Graduate Fellow Saki Kishimoto and interns Jennifer Nagel (University of Maryland, Finance), and Edinburgh-bound Derek Wang (NCCU, International Relations). Should you have a challenging job opening, please consider talking to them “personnelly!”