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EU-Taiwan Government Procurement Seminar

Taipei, 22 January 2015 – On 22 January 2015 the EU-Taiwan Government Procurement (GP) Seminar hosted a field of distinguished experts on public procurement, from the European Union and Taiwan, who exchanged experiences on the legal framework of Public Procurement and Public Private Partnership (PPP) for public infrastructure projects. More than 185 officials from the Taiwanese public entities, from European representative offices in Taiwan, from the industry and academia attended the seminar and participated in the lively panel discussion held at the end of the seminar, which provided a platform for further cooperation between the EU and Taiwan.

The seminar was organized jointly by the European Economic and Trade Office (EETO), under the framework of the European Business and Regulatory Cooperation Programme (EBRC), the Public Construction Commission (PCC) of the Executive Yuan and the Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and co-organised by the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) and the Department for the Promotion of Private Participation of the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

The EU and Taiwan have been cooperating on Government Procurement since 2008 by organising annual seminars and through regulatory dialogues. The GP seminar provides a platform for all stakeholders to increase their understanding of the best practices of government procurement and to pave the way to facilitate the harmonization of Taiwan's regulatory standards with international practices, which will benefit Taiwanese public entities and ultimately taxpayers, as competition increases.

Viktoria Lövenberg, Deputy Head of Office of the EETO, Min-Chih Teng, Deputy Minister of the PCC, and Shu-Mei Yang, Deputy Director General of BOFT delivered opening remarks at the seminar by welcoming greater information exchanges and future cooperation between Europe and Taiwan.

Ms Lövenberg stated that public procurement is an important topic on the EU-Taiwan dialogue agenda. She indicated that the EU has recently undertaken a major reform and modernisation of its procurement rules. The new legislation has been adopted and will need to be transposed into national law by 2016. She said that the seminar plays a very useful role in enhancing confidence and mutual trust, and thus contributing to the realisation of the commonly-shared objective of transparent and fair procurement conduct.

Mr Min-Chih Teng, Deputy Minister of PCC declared that Taiwan joined the WTO's plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) in 2009, and Taiwan's Government Procurement Act complies with the provisions of GPA. He indicated that the seminar provides a good opportunity for participants to understand EU's government procurement regulation, contract terms and best practices in Public Private Partnership.

Ms Shu-Mei Yang stated that when Taiwan joined the GPA, the Bureau of Foreign Trade commissioned the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) to implement the Global Government Procurement Project, and launch the GPS Taiwan trade website to provide Taiwanese companies with the first-hand government procurement information from all over the world. She stated that BOFT will step up efforts to help to create a more business-friendly government procurement environment in Taiwan.

The European experts were Dr Michael Fruhmann, from the Austrian Federal Chancellery, Ms Marie Gøthgen Clasen, Attorney from Horten Law Firm, Denmark and Mr Francisco Alcoba, PPP Specialist of INECO, Spain. They explained how the most economically advantageous standard applies in the EU and how it has been more efficient for government construction works instead of the lowest price system often used by Taiwanese public entities in tenders, and how it will enable Taiwan to attain both high quality and cost-efficient public works. Mr Fruhmann gave an overview of the reform process in Europe on public procurement (new Concessions Directive, new Utilities Directive and new Directive on e-invoicing) aimed at offering better access for small and medium enterprises, adding more flexibility and simplification and encouraging e-procurement. Ms Clasen explained the award criteria for contracting authorities in Europe and the useful method of scaling other criteria than the price. She highlighted that the evaluation should be an objective assessment of the tenders' satisfaction of the criteria not a comparison of the tenders. Mr Alcoba stressed the importance of Public Private Partnerships when governments are facing budget constraints but still have to upgrade infrastructure networks and invest in operational and maintenance plans and the importance of pre-tender planning, information of the public and ensuring transparency in PPP projects.

The Taiwanese experts were Ms Tiffany Huang, ECCT Project and Procurement Committee Co-Chair, Ms Chia-Chen Lee, Deputy Director General, Department for the Promotion of Private Participation, MOF and Dr Chih-Hsiung Wu, Superintendent of Taipei Medical University - Shuang Ho Hospital. Ms Huang explained the major issues of contract terms and conditions in Taiwan and how often conditions are interpreted in favour of procuring entities burdening foreign tendering. Ms Lee explained the legal framework of PPP projects in Taiwan, under the Act for Promotion of Private Participation in Infrastructure projects, initiated by the Public Construction Commission in 2000. She noted that since 2000 more than 979 PPP projects, worth more than US$22.13 billion in capital investment have helped to save more than US$26.36 billion in government expenditures and to create more than 100,000 jobs in Taiwan. She highlighted that the Ministry of Finance will strive to create a friendly investment environment and create a triple-win situation for the public sector, private sector and the people. Dr. Wu showed the successful experience of Shuang Ho Hospital, as an example of private participation in infrastructure project in Taiwan as a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) and how it allowed to maximize public resources and to create nongovernmental job opportunities.

A panel discussion and Q&A was held at the end of the seminar to discuss the life cycle of a procurement contract – from preparatory stage, planning, evaluation, implementation to afterwards management. The lively panel discussion was fitting end to a productive seminar that helped to improve understanding among stakeholders in public procurement.