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ECCT's 2012 Open Door Mission

Jean-Luc De Marty, Director General, Directorate General for Trade, European Commission (2nd left) with ECCT Open Door Mission Delegates. From L-R: Marcus Clinch (Beverage Alcohol Committee Co-Chair); De Marty; Freddie Hoelund (CEO); Chris James (2012 Chairman); Helmut Felix Bolt (Board Director)

2012 Open Door Mission
Promoting the ECCT's business issues in BrusselsFrom 11-13 December 2012, an ECCT delegation headed by outgoing 2012 ECCT Chairman Chris James and CEO Freddie Hoeglund traveled to Brussels, Belgium for its fifteenth consecutive annual Open Door Mission to the European Commission (EC) and other institutions. During the mission, the ECCT delegation met with a number of senior officials from the EC and with several other important institutions including BusinessEurope (the pan-European federation of European industries), the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) and the permanent representatives to the EU from Ireland (which will hold the EU presidency for first six months of 2013), the United Kingdom and Sweden. As in previous years, the programme was kindly coordinated by the EC unit responsible for trade issues with Taiwan under the Directorate General of Trade.Briefing to the Commission
At a series of meetings, the ECCT delegation updated Commission officials on the current business, political and economic situation in Taiwan, including an update on the most important issues facing ECCT member companies in Taiwan. The delegation noted that progress has been made on a number of technical issues over the years thanks to the efforts of the chamber, aided by the Commission's frequent discussions with Taiwanese authorities, particularly through its regular consultations and industry working groups meetings. A case that was extensively discussed in meetings was Directive 401 of the Indoor Wiring Standard. The delegation informed the Commission that it expected an imminent announcement from the Taiwan government that would address the issue. (At the time of the meetings, the announcement had not yet been made. An official announcement was made on 26 December, which, while not completely resolving the issue for ECCT members in the electrical engineering and equipment industry, has offered the prospect of a reasonable compromise which has allowed them to continue doing business). Progress on this issue followed numerous meetings between the ECCT and the government as well as between the Commission and the Taiwan government. The Commission's support in the case helped to achieve progress.

Renewed focus on EU-Taiwan trade deal
Much of the delegation's focus during discussions was devoted to reiterating the case for a trade deal between the EU and Taiwan. The delegation gave a briefing on the ECCT's report released in September 2012 titled "EU-Taiwan Trade Enhancement Measures: Update of the 2008 report Taiwan: Enhancing Opportunities for European Business". Delegates emphasized the main conclusion of the report, which is that the potential for EU-Taiwan trade enhancement measures are much stronger today than in 2008, when the benefits were first assessed. The delegation reiterated the ECCT's support for a trade deal between the EU and Taiwan because it is good for economic growth and for creating jobs in both Taiwan and Europe. The new study clearly shows that following the global financial crisis, the EU-Korea FTA and the ECFA with China, there are now even greater opportunities for both sides to benefit from such a deal, which would be good for the people of Europe and Taiwan.

Aligning interests and support for ECCT priorities
The delegation presented copies of the ECCT's 2013 Position Papers to all Commission officials they met with and requested the EC's assistance and cooperation to try to resolve issues facing European businesses in Taiwan during its discussions with the Taiwanese authorities.

The ECCT requested the Commission's support for the ECCT priorities, in particular, the adoption of international standards and support for an EU-Taiwan Trade Enhancement Measures Agreement (TEM). In addition, the delegation requested the EC's support for Taiwan's participation in non-political organizations. It was noted that support for Taiwan's participation in non-political organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) would generate considerable goodwill and improve the prospects for progress on other issues.

Commission welcomes delegation and briefing
The ECCT was welcomed by EC officials. Many officials praised the ECCT for its efficient organization and informative position papers.

International standards: On the issue of international standards, Commission officials expressed support for the ECCT's push for the adoption of international standards in Taiwan. The Commission shares the ECCT's view that double-testing requirements and Taiwan's unique standards in some areas hinder the importation of electronics products, electrical equipment, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and medical equipment and agree with the ECCT's position that if the Taiwanese authorities take decisive action to harmonise the regulatory environment with international standards, this would go a long way towards improving Taiwan's attractiveness as an investment destination and its competitiveness.

The Commission is engaged in an ongoing effort to urge the Taiwanese authorities to adopt European standards in its regular exchanges with the Taiwanese authorities through working group meetings and formal consultations and will continue to do this in the year ahead.

Trade Enhancement Measures (TEM): On the issue of an EU-Taiwan trade agreement, Commission officials acknowledged the case for a trade deal made by the ECCT's two studies and another by ECIPE.

However, the views of the Directorate General for Trade and the Cabinet of the Trade Commissioner have not changed over the past year. While the Commission does not dispute the economic case for a trade deal, it maintains the position that for substantial progress to be made on a trade deal between the EU and Taiwan, progress would need to be made in negotiations with China first. Officials said they would continue to seek to make progress with Taiwan on issues, such as market access and non-tariff barriers in the areas of procurement, standards and investment.

Briefing to EU member state representatives
The delegation held separate meetings with officials from permanent representative offices of three EU member states, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Sweden. At these meetings, delegates gave a briefing on the ECCT's main business issues and the 2012 TEM study.

Representative officials reported that member states are aware that Taiwan is an important trading partner for the EU and all expressed support for pursuing new ways to promote free trade between the EU and Taiwan. They also said that the EU is reviewing its relations with China and, pending that review, there may be room to review trade relations with Taiwan. Several member states believe the case for an EU-Taiwan trade deal is clear. Some member states are in favour of more action to promote EU-Taiwan trade relations. All representative officials welcomed the ECCT delegation's visit and briefing and encouraged further exchanges in future.

Meeting with Taiwan's representative to the EU 
As has become an annual tradition, delegates attended a dinner hosted by Taiwan's representative office in the EU. Wang Wan-li, Taiwan's Deputy Representative to the EU and Belgium, and his staff warmly welcomed the ECCT delegation and the dinner provided a good opportunity for an exchange of ideas on future challenges and opportunities facing Taiwan. During the dinner, Wang and his team reiterated Taiwan's support for a free trade agreement with the EU and expressed their willingness to work with the ECCT in the goal towards the adoption of international standards. Regarding the TEM, the government demonstrated its commitment by commissioning a study on the benefits of a trade deal by the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE). The ECIPE study published in 2010 makes a clear case for the benefits that a trade deal would bring for both Taiwan and the EU.

Other meeting summaries

European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
This meeting focused on the prospects for an EU-Taiwan trade agreement and participants exchanged ideas on how to make progress on issues such as standardization in the short and medium term.
This meeting focused on further opportunities for cooperation between the ECCT and BusinessEurope following the successful launch of the ECCT's 2012 TEM study (BusinessEurope arranged the Brussels launch of the study at its office in October). Delegates discussed at length practical means to make progress towards an EU-Taiwan trade deal.

Full report to follow.