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Lunch with New Taipei City Deputy Mayor

The working lunch with New Taipei City (or Xinbei) Deputy Mayor Yeh Hueh-ching and senior government officials from the New Taipei City Government was held as part of the ECCT's outreach programme as a nation-wide association to establish relations and seek areas of mutual cooperation with municipal governments all across Taiwan.

At the lunch ECCT Chairman Håkan Cervell introduced Deputy Mayor Yeh, who gave a short speech. This was followed by a presentation delivered by Tang Shih-hsuan, Executive Officer from the city's Economic Development Bureau, on the investment environment and business opportunities available in the city. After the presentation, over lunch, members discussed issues of importance with city officials who were seated at various tables at the venue. After lunch selected city officials gave short reports to the entire audience about what was discussed over lunch. Finally Deputy Mayor Yeh and Chairman Cervell made concluding remarks.

In his opening remarks Deputy Mayor Yeh highlighted the advantages of Xinbei. The city is the largest and most populous city in Taiwan with a population of approximately four million. He added that the city boasts a large and diverse workforce and industry and logistics supply chains. Since 2010 the number of registered enterprises has risen from more than 250,000 to over 270,000, a number that is higher than any other city in Taiwan. Yeh noted that the city's industry diversity covers both traditional and new and emerging sectors and that the city is working on improving the city's transportation infrastructure and environmental protection.

In her presentation, Tang Shih-hsuan began by highlighting Xinbei's strategic location and convenient transport links to Taipei, Taoyuan, the ports of Taipei and Keelung and two airports. She went on to talk about industry in the city. Xinbei is home to some 20,000 factories in five industrial parks. The most prominent industries are those engaged in fabricated metal products, machinery and equipment, plastics, computers, electronic and optical products and electronic parts and components industries, which together account for 60% of overall factories. The city has a strong and diverse workforce. There are 24 universities and colleges from with 34,963 students graduate every year.

Tang stressed that the city is ready to welcome new investors. According to Tang, more than 200,000 pings (66 hectares) of space is available in offices, factories, warehouses and in the form of undeveloped land (both public and private). The city is also continuing to develop industrial land via urban planning and newly constituted or extended urban projects in the Linkou, Taishan, Sanxia and Wugu areas, among others.

According to Tang, the city offers friendly governance and a one-stop service to investors to help them connect with all competent authorities and hold coordination meetings to solve problems in the shortest possible time. She went on to cite some successful examples of ECCT members who are doing business in the city and how the city has helped companies in various industries to get their businesses up and running. She also mentioned several preferential policies aimed at helping businesses, including those in the green energy and the culture and creative industries.

She went on to summarise the city's plans for transportation infrastructure. Construction is already underway on the so-called "3 Rings & 3 Lines" extensions of the greater-Taipei metro rail (MRT) system. When fully integrated, the three loop routes will create an extensive, easily-accessible commuting system, reducing travel time to less than one hour from anywhere within the greater metropolis of Taipei, Xinbei and Taoyuan (including links to the Taoyuan Airport MRT). Phase II of the circular line will pass through Xindian, Wugu, Luzhou, Sanchong, Wenshan, Zhongshan and Shilin districts and connect with five MRT lines: the Wenhu, LuZhou, Tamsui-Xinyi, Shenkeng and Wugu-Taishan lines.

Tang went on to address some issues that concern ECCT members. On the subject of electric vehicle development, she said that city authorities had already built 210 electric car charging docks in 87 public parking areas and 344 electric scooter charging docks in 73 public parking areas. In order to encourage the use of electric vehicles, the city provides free EV charging in public parking areas and free parking to EVs once a day. In 2011 two electric buses came into operation in the city.

In terms of future development, she said that when signing outsourcing contracts the city asks parking operators to build charging docks for electric vehicles. In terms of electric buses, in order to enhance incentives for operators to switch to electric buses, the city plans to increase subsidies for purchasing electric buses by asking the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to share the costs of subsidies. According to Tang, 20 electric buses will come into operation in 2018 and the city's target is to replace all fossil fuel buses with electric buses within 10 years.

On the subject of self-pay applications by medical centres in the city, Tang said that it is easier in Xinbei than in other cities for medical institutes to apply for out-of-pocket payments that are not covered by the national health insurance system. She went on to talk about specific development plans for each of the city's main regions, including the industry development focus of each region and urban renewal/regeneration plans.

After lunch, officials gave a short summary of the major topics that were discussed over lunch. Ellis Chang, Commissioner of the Economic Development Department reported on the topics of green energy, smart transport, traffic and mobility-as-a-service developments. He also spoke about the problem of pollution, particularly fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Lin Chi-hung, Commissioner of the Department of Health reported on a discussion about improving public education on healthcare issues and the subject of self-payments for heath products and services. He also reported that he had agreed to attend a follow-up meeting with ECCT members.

Chao Shiao-lien, Commissioner of the Department of Rapid Transit Systems, remarked that the best way to reduce pollution was to increase the use of public transport, which is why his department is working to speed up development of new MRT lines. He said that a new line in Tamsui should open by the end of this year and that the first of the circular lines should be operational next year.

In his closing remarks Deputy Mayor Yeh expressed a willingness to offer a "special service" to ECCT members facing skills shortages by acting as a contact point between members and academic institutions. He also stressed that the city is very concerned about and taking action to address climate change by cutting greenhouse gases. Besides promoting green transport, he reported that the city is no longer issuing licences for coal-burning generators in an effort to further improve air quality in the city.

In his closing remarks Chairman Cervell thanked Deputy Mayor Yeh and his colleagues for their time. He said that the way officials reported back on specific topics discussed during lunch was particularly useful. Finally, he expressed the hope that the city government and the ECCT would continue to cooperate in the future to make Xinbei an even better place for doing business than it is already is.