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ECCT makes progress on beef and telecom issues

The European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) has announced progress on several of its issues. This follows the chamber's meeting Premier Lin Chuan and senior cabinet officials today. At the meeting Premier Lin announced that Taiwan will soon lift the current restrictions in place that will allow the importation of beef from Sweden and The Netherlands. Also at the meeting, it was confirmed that the MOTC and the National Communications Commission announced its plans to allocate spectrum for 5G telecommunications on 24 Aug. Once actions are taken in line with these announcements they would resolve issues raised by ECCT's Retail & Distribution and Telecommunication, Media & Content committees.

The 15-member delegation attending the meeting consisted of committee chairpersons and was led by ECCT Chairman Håkan Cervell and CEO Freddie Höglund. The meeting, originally scheduled to last for just one hour went on for over two hours as delegates discussed priority business issues facing ECCT member companies in depth with the premier, cabinet ministers and other senior officials who were present.

On the subject of energy, Chairman Cervell made the point that the ECCT supports the government's ambitious renewable energy targets and that ECCT members, who are global leaders in wind energy technology and development, are ready to help scale up capacity rapidly. However, he called for the government's support to solve regulatory and financial issues in order to speed up the process. His remarks were augmented by those of the co-chairperson of the Wind Energy committee, who said that Taiwan has the potential to develop its green energy sector not only as a means of reducing greenhouse gases but also as a potential source of job creation and opportunities for technology and equipment exports. He added that a key step towards achieving this ambition is to put in place sufficient physical infrastructure in the form of grid allocation and harbour facilities, adopt international health safety and environmental standards for wind energy and set up facilities to train personnel in order to address the shortage of skilled personnel.

Delegates from the ECCT and the government engaged in a detailed discussion on labour issues, touching on both Taiwan's skills shortage and labour laws. The chairman stressed the need for more flexible labour laws in order to meet the needs of the modern economy. The Human Resources committee chairperson added suggestions on amendments to the Labour Standards Law, such as those related to working hours and holidays. Government officials present agreed to follow-up meetings with the ECCT on labour issues.

Also raised at the meeting was the issue of regulatory predictability and due process. Two recent examples of this were brought to the attention of the premier. In a recent case involving a member of the Agro-Chemical committee, a product approval that had been granted was suddenly withdrawn following media attention. The decision was made without a proper evaluation of scientific evidence. In another case involving a member of the Retail & Distribution committee, the government announced that the ban on the importation of a certain product had been lifted, only to reverse its decision within a month. During that month, a shipment of the products had already been sent, resulting in legal limbo for the shipment and considerable costs to the company concerned. The ECCT chairman emphasized the point that cases such as these risk damaging the reputation of the government and the attractiveness of Taiwan to international investors. He therefore urged the government to stick to commitments made, to follow due process and base decisions on scientific evidence. The premier and government officials present noted the ECCT's concerns and promised to follow up and find solutions.

On the subject of asset management, the committee chairperson present at the meeting called for enhanced corporate disclosure requirements to strengthen anti-money laundering efforts and corporate governance and a relaxation of investment restrictions on offshore funds.

The Banking committee's chairperson urged a further broadening of opportunities for offshore product development and distribution and to allow customers to use their financial assets under a trust structure as collateral.

The ECCT's Automotive committee representative raised the issue of encouraging fuel economy and carbon reduction technologies in passenger vehicles.

The Pharmaceutical committee's chairperson recommended implementing a Managed Entry Agreement in Taiwan in order to accelerate the introduction of new medications.

The Healthcare Enhancement committee chairperson made some recommendations on securing the sustainability of Taiwan's National Health Insurance system.

The chairperson from the Cosmetics committee called for a deregulation of cosmetics products for which classification as medicated cosmetics is not in line with international standards.

The Better Living committee's chairperson raised the importance of traffic safety for pedestrian cross walks and the need for a unified emergency assistance number.