The season of Thanksgiving and the American Club made for the perfect time and place to welcome back esteemed former Chairperson, Mr. Robert Parker, who traveled from his home in California as our inaugural “Visitors & Issues Program” speaker.
Parker related to the audience how 43 years ago, at the time of the United States’ “derecognition” of Taiwan, he flew to Capitol Hill to testify on behalf of a mechanism to allow for continuity in robust Taiwan commerce (see Taiwan Relations Act) while working feverishly in Taipei on multiple projects to sustain expat community life.
A new framework was urgently needed upon the departure of the U.S. diplomatic and military presence that had underpinned Taipei expat institutions until Washington abruptly set about closing shop to accommodate full recognition of Beijing. The suddenness of the break and lack of planning for the fallout of derecognition made for a suspenseful time, which our speaker eloquently described.
The gathering was co-hosted with the American Club, and we invited representatives from the institutions at the heart of Robert’s campaign: the American Club in Taipei, Taipei American School, Taipei Youth Program Association, International Community Radio Taiwan, and the American Institute in Taiwan. In addition, the event drew partners such as Fulbright Taiwan and the Community Services Center, history buffs, and several long-time friends of Parker and his wife who were simply happy to welcome the two back after a long absence.
Combining on the event with Club GM Peter Wood, we were heartened to turn out the community to reflect upon volunteerism and solidarity in times of tension and flux. We need such neighborly bonds and committed community leaders at all times – even more so now that the community is smaller and the stakes bigger. Thank you, co-hosts and partners.
Annual General Meeting
Parker’s visit was a reminder of AmCham’s pivotal role and what can be achieved with enough grit. Held just a week before our Annual General Meeting, his presentation also came at the perfect time to inspire both staff and Board to enter the next year with renewed spirits and ambitions.
For those who may have missed the highly contested election that was part of our AGM, I offer the President’s State of the Chamber below. Informing members of what is and what is to come, it supplemented remarks from our Chairperson Vincent Shih and AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk, as well as recognition of past and aspiring Chamber leadership and hardworking AmCham staff.
Committee centricity, not eccentricity
Committees are the heart and soul of AmCham’s advocacy, networking, and information. During the pandemic, they made a virtue of the necessity of virtual; now, we eagerly reunite in person.
• AmCham assists with better venues, cross-committee meetups, and event planning.
• Our Board Task Force issued Committee Guidelines that clarify Co-Chair selection, management of restricted committees, and sponsored events. The aim is to strike a good balance of committee autonomy and supportability.
• We’re re-starting metrics on committee output to help rationalize the number and coverage of committees.
• In the new year, we will mark the return of annual Co-Chair dinners and White Paper “primers.”
• As we phase out the Marketing & Distribution Committee, we bring in Education and explore the possibility of Outbound Direct Investment and Innovation & Entrepreneurship committees.
• I’m proud to introduce to you the Government and Public Affairs Department line-up for ’23: Mr. Jay Lin, Mr. Fernando Chen, and Ms. Joyce Pan.
2022 dealt all of us another mittful of wildcards. AmCham Taiwan proved we are Asia’s card sharks, as we have been during high stakes years: 1951, 1978, 1996, 2021. Read ’em and rejoice:
• We’ve added 200 individuals from 60 new member accounts, powering us to an all-time high of 560 accounts representing 1,155 individual members. This is the second consecutive year of double-digit growth. Many exciting entrants, from SpaceX to Turing Certs!
• You’ve generated a record NT$55 million revenue for AmCham this year and a record NT$9 million surplus, which we will direct into our Chamber Reserve, investments in productivity tools and training, and compensation for short-handed staff.
• We’ve filled all but one vacant staff position over 24 months and will be nearly fully restaffed by year-end.
• I joined regional AmChams in a meetup in Malaysia to compare notes on revenue models, events, CRM systems, and collective action.
Partnerships, our priority
Strategic partnerships continue to help AmCham expand its leverage:
• We are participating in the National Development Council’s new Bilingual 2030 Council and those of the American Club, Community Services, and Overseas Security Advisory Council.
• AIT Director Oudkirk continues her quarterly meetings with the Board, and we organize monthly staff-level working lunches with AIT.
• We’ve established new relationships with the growing American State Offices Association, new think tank Center for Asia-Pacific Resilience and Innovation, Taiwanese NGO Crossroads, and university partners NTU, with whom we signed an MOU to host international fellows.
• We hosted Amb. Ray Burghardt and noted author James McGregor to continue our advocacy of the Taiwan Fellowship Act, and get a better grip on China risk, respectively.
• We expanded cooperative ties with media outlets to include DigiTimes and Ghost Island Media, in addition to our already successful collaborations with CommonWealth, The News Lens International, and Business Next Media. The President has appeared live on Bloomberg and CNBC and was recently carried in Forbes magazine on the bright prospects of Taiwan’s outbound investment.
To bring our members more and better benefits, we:
• Joined an Asia-Pacific “Doorknock” to Washington and introduced our own virtual version and “D.C. Dialogue” series of over 20 hour-long video calls on business policy.
• Ran a flash survey to get ahead of a drumbeat of alarmist talk following Beijing’s August military exercises, shared the results via media, and then…
• Introduced the “Spotlight on Resilience” series in September to address member concerns and requests.
• Continued using live TV, radio, podcasts, and social/traditional media to exploit that “Taiwan is Trending” in the United States and globally – AmCham is, too!
• Introduced the President’s “AmChamers in the Media” social media spots featuring GIS Group, Taiwan Cube Energy, Astra Renewable Energy, Orkin Taiwan, Bechtel, Intuitive Surgical, Costco, Qualcomm, 3M, and Merck Group.
• Began to explore a new cross-cultural communications and business skills course, through which Taiwan’s linked supply chain companies venturing to the States can leverage our events while AmCham captures membership among dynamic future players in U.S.-Taiwan commerce. Working title: NextStep.
• Continue consideration of a tiered subscription model for premium services, such as those offered by the majority of regional AmChams, to enhance value/efficiency.
• Brainstormed means to bring us beyond greater Taipei, starting with Hsinchu and Tainan but also going as far as Arizona, Ohio, and Texas.
• Set our sights on hosting the AmChams of Asia Pacific Spring Summit 2024 after a 10-year break.
Here’s to a happy, peaceful, and prosperous 2023!