Launch of the 2021 Position Papers
The ECCT's 2021 Position Papers were officially released at a Premium Event lunch. A copy of the annual publication was officially handed over by ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo to the Taiwan government, represented by Dr Kung Ming-hsin, Minister of the National Development Council (NDC). The event was attended by around 100 guests, including board directors, committee chairpersons, European trade office representatives and other ECCT members. A summary of the main theme and overview were presented at the event by the chairman. Following the lunch, the papers were released to the media at a press conference, which was attended by journalists from print, television and online media groups.
The theme of this year's paper is "Boosting Brand Taiwan - Enhancing Innovation in Adverse Times". The papers offer recommendations on 170 issues raised by 25 ECCT committees on how to boost Brand Taiwan, 104 issues that were unresolved from previous years and 66 new issues.
In his presentation to members at the launch and his introduction to the papers to journalists at the press conference, the ECCT chairman explained that the central thrust of the theme was that Taiwan has a unique opportunity to capitalise and build on its strengths to enhance the image and attractiveness of "Brand Taiwan" as a way to attract investors and talent. Chairman Izzo went on to give a summary of the overview of the papers. Following his presentation, the chairman invited Minister Kung on stage to receive a copy of the papers. Minister Kung went on to make some remarks and answer a few questions from ECCT members.
Summary of 2021 Position Paper Overview
Taiwan's economy has been less affected by the coronavirus pandemic than much of the world thanks to the government's early response and competent handling of both the healthcare and economic consequences of the pandemic. But Taiwan is facing challenges posed by an ageing society, US-China trade and other geopolitical tensions and increasing digitalisation and automation of multiple industry sectors. Yet, Taiwan is relatively well-positioned to address these challenges given its open society, good geographical location, established infrastructure, a reliable regulatory and legal system, entrepreneurial acumen, abundant capital resources and a skilled workforce. Great progress has been made in recent years towards improving Taiwan's image and appeal internationally. But to take that success to the next level, Taiwan's image needs to be raised in prominence to the extent that it becomes akin to a globally-recognised brand that is renowned for excellence. It is in the interest of business and the government to boost the image and reach of "Brand Taiwan".
The Overview goes on to list actions in specific areas that the government could take to enhance the image and attractiveness of Brand Taiwan to international investors and talent.
Boosting Taiwan's internationalisation: An essential component of boosting Brand Taiwan is to align the regulatory system with international standards and best practices and make the investment and living environment attractive to international investors. For example, a number of Taiwan's CNS standards are not aligned with international standards, thereby stifling the transition to electrical engineering equipment and automotive products that are safer and of a higher quality. Taiwan also maintains unique requirements for cosmetics' safety assessors and restrictive regulations for hypermarkets, which make business difficult for companies in the cosmetics and retail industries. Besides standards and best practices, there remain instances of a lack of transparency as well as inconsistencies in the implementation of regulations and procedures, which are hampering the development of several industries.
The level and quality of English usage is an important investment consideration for multinational businesses and a crucial factor for attracting international investors and talented foreigners to relocate to live and work in Taiwan. The international business community has therefore welcomed the government's aim to become a bilingual nation by 2030 and the blueprint towards achieving this goal. The government has taken a step in the right direction by undertaking to translate policies, legislation, regulations, rulings, or public announcements issued by the central government into English but more could be done towards achieving a greater level of bilingualism in government agencies and improving English fluency in education, government and the private sector.
The ECCT continues to support the government's efforts to pursue international trade deals, especially an EU-Taiwan Bilateral Investment Agreement (BIA). The Overview notes that taking action to internationalise Taiwan's regulatory, business and living environment would make Taiwan a more attractive candidate for a BIA and similar trade deals.
Boosting Taiwan's attractiveness as a services centre: Taiwan is ideally placed to become a regional headquarters for multinational corporations in Asia and a regional hub for financial services given its geographical location, strong capital base, established financial institutions, rule-based regulatory system, and accountable government. However, further liberalisation of regulations is needed to create the ideal conditions for Taiwan to become an Asian corporate capital management and high-asset management centre.
Boosting Taiwan's status as a healthcare innovator: Taiwan's healthcare officials and medical personnel have performed extremely well under challenging conditions during the pandemic. But Taiwan's national healthcare system is facing rising challenges from an ageing population and an increase in chronic diseases. To address these challenges, more spending will be needed on healthcare. Moreover, to increase the sustainability of the National Health Insurance system, co-payment reforms are needed.
Boosting Taiwan's image as a haven for talent: To drive innovation will require talented individuals and dynamic companies that cultivate and support talent. Taiwan's handling of the pandemic has helped to promote Taiwan's image as a safe place to live and work. However, more could be done to create the ideal conditions to attract and retain talent in Taiwan. The ECCT's Human Resources and Better Living committees have called for better incentives to attract foreign talent, a loosening of visa requirements for foreign professionals, ensuring equal treatment for foreign nationals and modernising Taiwan's labour laws to take into account the complexities of both modern workplaces and remote working.
Boosting Taiwan's green economy: The government, to its credit, has fully committed to an energy transition away from fossil-fuels to renewable energy and the electrification of the transportation sector and demonstrated its support through various policy actions. But more could be done to speed up decarbonisation and work towards creating a circular economy in Taiwan.
To drive the transition to electric mobility will require a roadmap with annual targets for a nationwide electric vehicle charging system that is aligned with international standards. Subsidies for the electrification of car parking lots at strategic locations around the island should be provided and building code regulations should be revised to give apartment owners the right to install EV charging facilities. Besides fiscal incentives, the government could introduce non-fiscal incentives that encourage the adoption and usage of EVs, such as setting aside exclusive parking spaces, offering parking discounts, free public charging and a relaxation of high occupancy requirements during peak periods for EVs.
ECCT members in the wind energy industry support the government's aim of developing the local industry and turning Taiwan into a regional wind energy hub. However, there is still a risk of micromanaging the development process to the point that it stifles the local industry's development. In particular, Taiwan's local content requirements and regulatory framework are too inflexible. ECCT members have therefore urged the government to introduce a flexible and reasonable percentage-based local content regulation, in order to bring Taiwan's local offshore wind suppliers into the global offshore wind supply chain and to drive cost reductions in the domestic supply chain. In addition, they recommend that the regulatory framework and pipeline be made flexible enough to encourage the development and implementation of new technologies, such as install larger turbines or floating foundations in future.
Energy storage is a crucial component in energy policy planning given the intermittent nature of renewable energy. ECCT members have therefore urged authorities to develop a policy framework for energy storage that is technology neutral and flexible enough to encourage the development and utilisation of technology breakthroughs, such as advances in battery technology and the production of hydrogen using renewable energy.
Conclusion: The overview concludes that the government has performed remarkably well in the face of the global pandemic and is well-positioned to come out of it stronger and more competitive. It stresses that the ECCT's recommendations are aimed at helping Taiwan to overcome challenges, enhance innovation in this time of adversity and capitalise on the great economic opportunities available in the post-pandemic era. The ECCT therefore urges the government to continue to engage in constructive and comprehensive consultations with the chamber's members and work together to strengthen Taiwan's international image and reputation and, in so doing, boost Brand Taiwan.
NDC response and press conference launch
After receiving a copy of the papers, NDC Minister Kung gave a short speech in which he thanked the ECCT and its members for their contributions to Taiwan's economic development, acknowledging that Europeans continue to invest more than any other group of foreign investors in Taiwan. He went on to talk about some of the areas of reform that the government was working on which would address issues raised in the position papers. In particular, he mentioned smart industry, the digital economy, further steps towards becoming a bilingual nation and a further relaxation of regulations for hiring foreign talent. He also spoke about plans to grant equal treatment and benefits to all permanent foreign residents in future.
Immediately following the lunch, the position papers were released to the media at a press conference. The press conference was hosted by ECCT Chairman Izzo and CEO Freddie Höglund and attended by committee chairpersons from the ECCT's Banking, Better Living, Electrical Engineering & Equipment, Energy & Environment, Healthcare Enhancement, Human Resources, Mobility, Retail & Distribution, Travel & Tourism and Wind Energy committees.
At the conference, Chairman Izzo began by giving a brief summary of the 2021 Position Paper theme, after which committee co-chairs gave short briefings on some of the main issues facing members in their various industries.
Around 20 journalists, representing all of Taiwan's major Chinese and English language newspapers were present as were broadcast and online media representatives. After a briefing of the main position paper issues, there was an open Q&A session for journalists to talk to ECCT committee representatives in person.