ECCT media briefing
The European Chamber of Commerce (ECCT) had a good year in 2014. Over 180 activities were held including events, meetings and government visits, with attendance of around 4,500 members and guests. Membership rose to over 820 individual members from over 400 companies and organisations. The chamber maintains excellent relations with the government, at all levels and continues to make good progress. Over 24% of issues listed in the ECCT's 2014 Position Papers were either successfully resolved or saw progress towards resolution.
Open Door Mission
The chamber also maintains good relations with the European Commission and the European Union's representative in Taiwan, the European Economic and Trade office. An ECCT delegation completed a successful Open Door Mission visit to Brussels in December. Meetings were held with Directorate Generals for Trade, Enterprise (DG Grow), External Action (EEAS) and Communications (DG Connect). The delegation also met with representatives to the EU from Germany and Luxembourg, ECIPE (a think tank), Business Europe (the largest pan-European federation of European industries), the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) and the Taiwan government's representative to the EU and Belgium. The annual Open Door Mission helps the chamber to clearly and openly communicate members' interests to the EC and the Taiwan government as well as keep up to date on the positions and latest developments in the EC and the EU in general.
The ECCT's Low Carbon Initiative remains exceptionally active, participating in events all across Taiwan. The LCI now has a well-established reputation and excellent relations with a number of government ministries, academic and other prominent institutions such as the Chunghwa Institution of Economic Research and ITRI.
On 5 March the ECCT's Low Carbon Initiative (LCI) released a report titled "The Path to Industrial Energy Efficiency in Taiwan - Partnering with the EU". The report, initiated jointly by KPMG Sustainability Consulting and the LCI, provides an overview of global energy and climate facts and trends, a summary of policies and practices in Taiwan and the EU and offers some of the best solutions to improve energy efficiency in industry from ten ECCT LCI members: ABB, Atlas Copco, BASF, Bosch, Evonik, Grundfos, Schneider, Siemens, STMicroelectronics and TÜV Rheinland.
The subject for the report was chosen because industry is the largest consumer of electricity in Taiwan and there is great potential to improve energy efficiency in Taiwan's industrial sector. ECCT LCI members have a lot to offer Taiwan in the drive towards a low carbon future. Adopting the solutions developed by LCI members would substantially increase energy efficiency in industry. Besides the environmental benefits, these solutions would also help companies to reduce costs over the medium to long term. Adopting them would help Taiwan to become greener, more sustainable, more competitive and more profitable.
EU-Taiwan Business Regulatory & Cooperation Programme update
2014 was a successful first year of the EU-Taiwan Business and Regulatory Cooperation (EBRC) programme, funded and coordinated by the European Union and run by the ECCT. Four major events were held on the topics of high voltage electrical equipment, food safety, micro and nanoelectronics and the service industry. The programme for this year started with a successful seminar on government procurement.
GNSS Asia update
The ECCT has been awarded a contract for the second phase of the GNSS.asia project. The project started in January 2015 and will run for two years. The ECCT is part of the same consortium of five European chambers in Asia that participated in the first phase (together with India, China, South Korea and Japan) plus two additional chapters, one from ASEAN and one from Australia.
The ECCT remains actively involved with sister European chambers in the region as part of the Worldwide Network of European Business Chambers (EBO). This year, a chamber delegation is planning a trip to Thailand to visit the ECCT's counterpart in Bangkok. The ECCT visited Indonesia last year, Vietnam the year before and South Korea, and China in previous years.
Financial Services committees update
Members of the ECCT's financial services committees acknowledge the steps taken by Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) intended to enhance the competitiveness of Taiwan financial services industry. There were many positive steps introduced by the FSC in 2014, For example, the FSC announced that it would allow Securities Investment Trust Enterprises (SITE) and Security Investment Consulting Enterprises (SICE) to introduce and provide related services for offshore unregistered funds to qualified institutional investors. In addition, banking industries are allowed to distribute offshore fixed income products and provide "information and advisory" derivatives services to professional institutional investors. In addition, insurance companies with a business presence in Taiwan will be allowed to establish an Offshore Insurance Unit (OIU), which members regard as essential to build Taiwan as a competitive market for the wealth management business. Members believe that a series of measures adopted by the FSC will be helpful in developing Taiwan's financial market as an important one in Asia-Pacific region.
To further expand the Taiwan financial market, the next step is to embrace the regulatory and operational standards that have been adopted internationally. For example, the restrictions imposed on offshore funds holding Chinese equities should be further relaxed. In addition, many banks in Taiwan still send their transactions via facsimile. The FSC should encourage banks to adopt automation systems widely being used in international markets.
Recently, the FSC announced the lowering of the rating requirement on Offshore Structured Products (OSP) distributed to non-professional investors. This marks the beginning of making more products available to retail investors. However, members have urged the FSC to further relax the rating requirement so as to give retail investors more choices to optimise their portfolios and to allow the opening of this market to strong global banks that have a significant presence in Taiwan.
Automotive committee update
Encouraging the use and development of new vehicle technologies: The automotive industry is making tremendous efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and lower energy consumption and many advanced technologies applying to new energy vehicles have proven to be effective in such efforts. To sufficiently encourage the usage of various new technologies, including hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and battery electric vehicles (BEV), the industry is calling for incentive policies to be implemented to promote all the environmentally-friendly automotive technologies. The current incentive scheme focuses mainly on pure EVs while neglecting the fact that the relevant EV structure and standards are not in place. This might compromise the result of the government's efforts to promote environmentally-friendly automotive technologies. Moreover, Taiwan is lagging behind several Asian countries in EV related development. The committee recommends that the government accelerate the development of EV infrastructure, especially charging stations, following a clearly defined technical standard, to sufficiently facilitate the development of EVs.
International harmonization of CO2 emissions and fuel consumption standards for vehicles: While the committee appreciates the efforts of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and Ministry of Economic Affairs' Bureau of Energy (BoE) in referring to European practices when developing the standards and regulations on CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, the committee has recommended that both agencies consult and take into account the views of foreign importers and manufactures in finalizing the implementation details and punitive measures. They have also recommended that tyre grading/labeling standards should be revised to promote the usage of eco-friendly products such as regrooved tyres.
Road Safety - Encouraging the usage of advanced safety devices and system: According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the number of fatal car accidents has decreased by 50% compared to 20 years ago. However, in contrast, the number of fatal motorcycle accidents surged by 200% over the same period. This can be partly attributed to the lack of safety equipment in motorcycles (while a lot of technologies and safety equipment have been implemented in modern cars). The committee recommends that the government take action to enhance public awareness of road safety and encourage/facilitate applications of advanced technologies that enhance the safety of vehicles by, for example, promoting motorcycle anti-lock braking systems.
Electrical Engineering & Equipment (EEE) committee update
Directive 401: Members of the EEE committee are pleased that the Bureau of Energy (BoE) has established an effective communication channel over the past year and has started to work with the committee in order to make the guidelines more feasible and practicable. During the two year grace period before new rules are to become effective, members of the committee expect the BoE to hold meetings with members to discuss aspects of the amended guidelines. Members of the committee are willing to assist the BoE to review each item of Directive 401 regulations in order to ensure that they are in line with international practices.
Bringing CNS standards in line with IEC standards: Members of the EEE committee are glad to see that Taiwan has gradually adopted IEC or equivalent standards in the electrical component manufacturing sector. The committee further recommends that the regulation of arc fault detection devices (AFDD) for household and similar uses in AC circuits conform to IEC standards.
Retail & Distribution committee update
Promotion of private sector self-regulation in Taiwan: Recent product health and safety issues have intensified pressure on the government to take action. The unfortunate result has been the introduction of excessive and impractical regulations and procedures. While members of the Retail & Distribution committee support strict regulations to protect the health and safety of consumers, compliance and enforcement procedures need to be practical for businesses to follow and should not overly burden government resources. Micro-managing the process and providing insufficient resources have resulted in weak enforcement of irresponsible businesses and bottlenecks for law-abiding businesses to invest and develop Taiwan's economy. Committee members are concerned about this trend, but at the same time pleased to witness strong interest and efforts to promote industry self-regulation. One distinct example is advertising self-regulation, which has gained support from some business sectors, including food and cosmetics, as well as government agencies. There are many successful models of government regulation combined with industry self-regulation throughout the world. Self-regulation has long been a feature of regulatory systems in countries in the European Union and Asia but is absent from Taiwan and China. Members of the committee continue to recommend that the government support and promote a balanced regulatory system that combines practical government regulation with industry self-regulation.
Excessive food labelling requirements: The regulatory requirement for food labeling has been extensively expanded after several amendments to regulations. The list of mandatory information has become so extensive that it not only confuses consumers but also creates unnecessary compliance barriers to importers. The public has already begun to question whether such extensive, lengthy and technical terminology with uncertain meanings is necessary or practical. This consumer feedback has been among the issues raised with the TFDA by relevant businesses. Members of the committee have urged the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) to re-examine its policies and streamline the required contents for food labeling with the objective of providing helpful and meaningful information to consumers.
About the ECCT
With over US$33 billion in direct foreign investments, European business remains the largest group of foreign investors in Taiwan. The European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan is the only foreign nationwide business chamber in Taiwan and the principal organisation promoting European business interests in Taiwan. The chamber represents over 820 members from over 400 companies and organisations. Through a network of 28 industry and support committees, the ECCT has been successful in addressing specific concerns and providing concrete recommendations to all levels of government to facilitate improving the business environment. The ECCT annually publishes a series of position papers that comprise issues identified by its committees as hindering the further development of their respective industries and provide recommendations to the government of Taiwan for improvement of the business environment on general issues as well as industry-specific problems. They also serve to keep the European Commission and parliament as well as the governments of individual European Union member states informed about Taiwan's business environment.