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ECCT meets NDC to discuss progress on 2018 Position Papers

The European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) held its annual grand meeting with the National Development Council (NDC) today. At the meeting representatives from the ECCT's industry and support committees discussed with representatives of specific government agencies the government's official reply to the business issues raised in the chamber's 2018 Position Papers. During the meeting, ECCT delegates asked for clarification from government representatives present on a number of points set out in the official reply with a view towards making further progress. The meeting began with opening remarks by NDC Minister Chen Mei-lin and ECCT Vice Chairman Olivier Rousselet and lasted for four hours.

The ECCT committees represented were Asset Management, Automotive, Banking, Better Living, Cosmetics, Electrical Engineering and Equipment, Healthcare Enhancement, Human Resources, Insurance, Pharmaceutical and Retail & Distribution. The meeting was coordinated by officials from the NDC who invited representatives from the following government agencies: the Council of Agriculture, the Financial Supervisory Commission, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Central Bank of the Republic of China (CBC), the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), Taiwan Power Company and the National Communications Commission (NCC).

During its discussions, the ECCT's committee representatives acknowledged progress made over the past year. In particular, many of the issues raised by the Human Resources committee were resolved following the passage of the amendment to the Labour Standards Act that was passed by the Legislative Yuan on 10 January 2018. For example, overtime pay for work on rest days will be based on actual hours worked while the maximum number of overtime hours has been increased to 54 hours per month or 138 hours over 3 months. In addition, the so-called "one fixed day and one flexible day off policy" has been relaxed to allow up to 12 consecutive days of work, subject to certain conditions. In addition, unused leave days may be carried over to the following year. Most of the amendments to the labour law are in line with ECCT recommendations.

Also at the meeting the ECCT Better Living committee's representative acknowledged progress made over the past year. Specifically, following the passage of the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals and a revision to the National Health Insurance Act, children of foreign professionals will no longer have to wait six months to become eligible for Taiwan's National Health Insurance. Instead newborns of foreign nationals with Alien Resident Certificates (ARCs) are now eligible to join the national health insurance plan at birth. Besides progress, the committee's delegate raised several issues that remain unresolved. This included the longstanding issue of different number formats for Republic of China (ROC) national ID cards and ARC cards, which denies ARC holders access to many services which they may be eligible for, such as online commerce. In addition there remain several instances where ARC holders are not afforded the same treatment as ROC nationals, even though they are subject to the same legal requirements and tax rates as citizens. For example, ARC holders are not eligible for electric vehicle subsidies while senior ARC holders are not eligible for discounts on the Taiwan High Speed Rail.

In addition, progress was made by the ECCT's Automotive committee on the issue of "Encouraging fuel economy and carbon reduction technologies in passenger vehicles". The Bureau of Energy has taken into consideration the committee's recommendations to allow more flexibility and incentives for new energy vehicles in its new fuel efficiency standards.

On an issue raised by the Electrical Engineering and Equipment committee, the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspections (BSMI) has undertaken to accept international Voluntary Product Certification (VPC) testing reports for photovoltaic (PV) inverters for a period of three years. While the committee has welcomed the move, they have proposed removing the three-year limitation.

On an issue that had raised concerns for ECCT members in the Retail & Distribution committee, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clarified the role it will play in the labelling process for imported organic food. Based on the FDA's response, ECCT members have been assured that the FDA's role will not conflict with that of the Council of Agriculture (COA), thereby resolving the issue.

In another issue raised by the Retail committee, the Legal Affairs Committee of Executive Yuan (EY) has undertaken to provide consistent and speedier translations of regulations. The EY has announced an amendment to the "National Guidelines on English translation of regulations" to require: 1) consistent English translations in all regulations and 2) more timely English versions for trade, investment, and IPR related regulations.

Progress was also made to partially address an issue raised by the ECCT's Banking committee. The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) has amended a regulation to relax the eligibility requirements for high net worth investors. Under the revised regulation, 100%-owned subsidiaries of high net worth investors, with guarantees from their parent companies on derivative transactions, could be eligible to apply to have derivatives information and advisory business services provided by banks.

At the meeting government officials undertook to take action on a number of issues. On issues where progress was not made, government agencies agreed to re-evaluate some of their current positions and arrange follow-up meetings with the ECCT in the weeks ahead.

About the ECCT
With over US$44 billion in direct foreign investments, European businesses are collectively 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 860 members from over 400 companies and organisations. Through a network of 30 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 countries informed about Taiwan's business environment.