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ECCT promotes Europe-Taiwan partnership at Europe Day Dinner

Taipei, 15 May – The European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) today called for enhancing partnership between Europe and Taiwan in order to boost economic performance and prosperity in Taiwan and Europe. The call was made by ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo during his speech at the ECCT's annual Europe Day Dinner held today. The annual dinner celebrates the first steps taken towards founding what has evolved into the European Union. The theme of this year's dinner was "Enhancing Europe-Taiwan Partnership and Prosperity". The dinner was attended by over 600 distinguished guests including President Ma Ying-jeou, Frederic Laplanche, Head of the European Union's (EU) European Economic and Trade Office (EETO) in Taiwan, senior government officials and executives from European and Taiwanese companies. At the dinner speeches were given by President Ma, EETO Head Laplanche and ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo.

In his speech at the dinner ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo began by expressing the chamber's support of the government's actions to normalize cross-Strait business relations and enhance cross-Strait trade and investment through formal negotiations, saying that trade agreements with Taiwan's trading partners are important to eliminate trade barriers and maintain Taiwan's competitiveness. "Because Europe is the world's largest economy, we continue to urge both the EU and Taiwan authorities to sign a Trade Enhancement Measures agreement or similar measures such as a bilateral investment agreement. Such measures would strengthen trade and investment ties, remove trade barriers, boost GDP and create jobs in Europe and Taiwan," he said. Izzo also expressed support for the government's ongoing efforts to further liberalise the trade and investment environment with projects such as free economic pilot zones in Taiwan.

The chairman went on to say that, while the chamber supports the pursuit of free trade agreements with all of Taiwan's partners, the ECCT is very much aware of Taiwan's internal political and social tensions. "We recognize that change causes anxiety and people are worried about the future. We live in a world where the entire supply chain is globalized and competition for business and jobs is fierce," he said. Pointing out that this problem is not unique to Taiwan or Asia, he said that to address this problem, government and the private sector need to work together to provide decent jobs and hope for the future. Citing the ECCT's already excellent relations with the government, the chairman called for taking this relationship to the next level. "We need to find the best ways to marry regulatory oversight and efficiency with innovation and business know-how," he said. He then went on to outline his views on the best way of doing this. The first requirement, he said, is a smart and efficient regulatory system that protects the health and safety of consumers while creating a level playing field for the best business models and the most innovative companies, products and services to thrive.
The chairman noted that while Taiwan has taken gradual steps towards internationalization, there remain instances of unique regulations or practices that are out of step with international standards. In this regard, the ECCT aims to help the government through the "European Business and Regulatory Cooperation" (EBRC) programme, a project funded and managed by the European Commission and implemented by the ECCT (www.ebrc.com.tw). Over the next four years, the ECCT will work closely with the European Commission, the European Economic and Trade Office and the Taiwan government to hold a series of forums and workshops covering regulations governing multiple industries. The chairman noted that a two-day forum to discuss regulations governing high voltage electrical equipment has already been held which brought together industry experts from the International Electrotechnical Commission (the IEC) and senior government officials from Taiwan, the European Commission, the Netherlands and Germany. By inviting experts from international standards-setting bodies and government, the programme's ultimate aim is to bridge regulatory differences and help Taiwan to harmonise its regulatory system with international standards and practices governing multiple industries.

The chairman went on to call for partnership to address climate change. Noting that the ECCT's Low Carbon Initiative has been involved as the host, co-host or supporter of many conferences, trade fairs, seminars and workshops to promote low carbon solutions over the past year. The chairman said that these were aimed at sharing the experiences of European countries and companies and show-case the best European examples of sustainable, low carbon solutions for a wide range of industries but now it is time to move on to the implementation stage. He urged starting by working together on pilot projects for green buildings, factories, electric mobility, smart grids and renewable energy. "Just by implementing the technologies already available in Taiwan's manufacturing sector and buildings, Taiwan could easily meet its modest emission reduction goals. By partnering with European firms and governments, Taiwan could set and achieve much more ambitious goals. Taiwan could take the environmental challenges facing us and turn them into new business opportunities by providing the right incentives and investment environment. We want to help Taiwan to become a green model for countries around the world," he said.

The chairman concluded his speech by calling for combining Taiwanese and European ingenuity and tenacity and partnership to create a truly international regulatory environment, partnership in public and private business projects that will create jobs and partnership in research and development on the technologies and business opportunities of the future. "Through partnership we can help to build a better world and a better future for our people," he concluded.

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