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ECCT promotes nationwide business development at Europe Day Dinner

Taipei, 16 May – The European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) today called on the government to increase trade liberalization and adopt international standards in order to foster business development in Taiwan. 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 founding of the European Union. The theme of this year's dinner was "Promoting Business Nationwide" in line with the chamber's transition this year to the only foreign nationwide business association in Taiwan. The dinner was attended by over 650 distinguished guests including President Ma Ying-jeou, Frederic Laplanche, Head of the European Union's (EU) European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan, senior government officials and executives from European and Taiwanese companies.

In his speech at the dinner Izzo said the ECCT hopes to build on the remarkable achievements it has made since its founding 25 years ago to promote business all across Taiwan. Representing the largest group of foreign investors in Taiwan with investments of more than US$31 billion dollars in all the major sectors of Taiwan's economy, the ECCT is aiming to expand its business activities and presence across the island as a nationwide association. In this regard the chairman said that the chamber had already visited Taichung twice and more visits are planned to Tainan and other major cities in the near future. "As we expand our activities, we will be encouraging more investment, promoting business development and sharing the most advanced standards and business practices across Taiwan," he said.

Izzo praised Taiwan for progress made in its competitiveness rankings by reaching its best ever level of 16th place in the World Bank's 2013 Doing Business Survey, remarking that progress made in recent years shows how flexible and dynamic Taiwan remains. However, he noted that despite progress, Taiwan is still less competitive than the other so-called Asian tiger economies of South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. "Taiwan is perceived as excellent at low cost manufacturing but not as good at innovation and creativity, which are key elements in the knowledge economy and are essential for Taiwan to move up the value chain," he said.

To succeed in a highly competitive world, the chairman said that Taiwan needs an education system that encourages questioning and fosters creativity and new ideas. The chairman noted that the Taipei European School is a model example of an excellent educational institution that is essential to attract foreign professionals with school-going children and investments to Taiwan. He therefore urged the national and Taipei City governments to continue to support the school's future development needs. He also recommended increasing cultural diversity and internationalization by attracting more foreign professionals and students to Taiwan and making it easier for them to live, work and study here.

Turning to business, the chairman said that Taiwan's failure to adopt international standards and practices hinders its competitiveness in a number of industries. He therefore urged authorities to accept EU standards and industry practices, which are among the world's most advanced. This, he said, would increase Taiwan's attractiveness as an investment destination and increase Taiwanese firms' competitiveness in the global market place.

In his speech Chairman Izzo reiterated the chamber's call to remove the ban or restrictions on goods manufactured in China and pursue an EU-Taiwan trade deal to take advantage of untapped potential to boost two-way trade, GDP and create jobs in both the EU and Taiwan. He also urged continued unilateral trade liberalization efforts to remove technical barriers to trade in order to create an open economy that will benefit industry and consumers. Furthermore, the chairman called for greater action to reduce Taiwan's greenhouse gas emissions: "There is room for significant energy savings if Taiwan adopts the most advanced technology and solutions to reduce consumption by energy intensive industries, retail stores, offices, residential buildings and white goods. The ECCT's Low Carbon Initiative was created to offer and develop solutions in partnership with the government and industry and we remain ready to work together with our Taiwanese partners to realize the vision of a low carbon future for Taiwan. Promoting low carbon products and technology would also spur economic activity and boost business opportunities, creating a virtuous cycle," he said.

The chairman concluded his speech by saying that he believes Taiwan remains a good place to live and do business and that the ECCT as a nation-wide chamber will work together with its partners in business and government to make an even greater contribution to Taiwan's economic development to build a more dynamic, sustainable and successful economy for the people of Taiwan.