Mission for Growth briefing meeting
During the briefing meeting, DG Calleja and Chairman Liang signed joint minutes to initiate the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) in Taiwan. EEN is a network of around 600 business support organisations from more than 60 countries which helps small companies to realise business opportunities in the EU. Other global EEN member organisations include chambers of commerce and industry, technology centres, research institutes and development agencies. The Taiwan chapter is a consortium comprising the following organisations: TAITRA, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), the Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (TEEMA), National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs) and the ECCT. The consortium will offer fundamental services for business cooperation, R&D collaboration and technology transfers.
In his speech DG Calleja noted that he was accompanied on the Mission for Growth to Taipei by a delegation of 60 participants, which included representatives from business and trade promotion agencies, a municipality from Slovakia and many SMEs from 15 EU Member States. He pointed out that the delegation was well representative of the EU and a number of industries including ICT, automotive, consulting and banking, among others. Moreover, the companies taking part represent considerable economic clout given that have collective turnover of €192 billion euros, an amount equivalent to the GDPs of Ireland and Malta combined, and together they employ some 750,000 people.
Following the global financial crisis, the EU is back on track, according to Calleja. Forecasts show that all EU countries are growing and 2% GDP growth is expected in 2015 for the EU block overall. This is very good news considering the extent of the crisis. Calleja outlined three "recipes" for future growth: internationalization, innovation and investment. According to Calleja, the EU has 23 million SMEs, which collectively provide two out of every three jobs in the EU and account for 85% of new jobs in Europe. While their contribution to the economy is self-evident, there is enormous growth potential for SMEs both in and outside the EU, including in Taiwan, which is currently the EU 19th largest trading partner with strong and rising trade. Bilateral EU-Taiwan trade grew by 4.1% in 2014 and services grew by 5.3%, according to Calleja. As one of the world's leading suppliers of ICT, Calleja said it is not surprising that many companies on the Mission for Growth are from this industry. The EU wants to see more collaboration in ICT given that information and the digital economy are major growth areas, especially if the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) is included.
Calleja said that creating a single digital market is a priority of the European Commission. By some estimates, if the single market is achieved it could add €250 billion to the economy. The development of space applications is also a key area. (DG GROW is also responsible for satellite-related matters.) Given Taiwan's strong semiconductor industry, there is great room for collaboration between the EU and Taiwan in developing satellite-related products and services. In addition Calleja said he sees a lot of potential in energy-related development. Renewables, efficiency and environmental protection are areas where joint cooperation is possible.
On the subject of investment, commenting that Europeans are the largest investors in Taiwan, Calleja said that there is much scope to increase investments from Taiwan in the EU. He pointed out some of the EU's many advantages including a huge single market, a strong industrial base, a highly skilled labour force, good logistics and developed capital markets. Calleja noted that Taiwanese investments in Europe are only about a quarter of the size of Taiwanese investments in the United States. The EU would like to see more Taiwanese investments in Europe to address this imbalance. For its part, the Commission wants to improve the attractiveness of Europe by introducing investment-friendly policies. This is one of the priorities of Commission President Juncker. In this regard, new measures will be put in place to raise funds, reduce bottlenecks and barriers. There is a good case for more investment in the EU and closer links with Taiwanese companies, he said. He therefore welcomed Taiwan's inclusion in the EEN and its first matchmaking event (held later on the same day as the briefing meeting). Calleja concluded that further cooperation between the EU and Taiwan would be a win-win for companies and people on both sides.
In his presentation TAITRA Chairman Liang said that he was pleased to see Taiwan included in the EEN network as it would help SMEs from both the EU and Taiwan to find opportunities to work together. Liang went on to give an introduction to TAITRA as well as explain some of Taiwan's unique advantages and business opportunities.
In his presentation ECCT Chairman Bernd Barkey introduced how the ECCT is helping European companies to do business in Taiwan. He also reiterated some of the advantages of doing business in Taiwan that were described by TAITRA Chairman Liang and also apparent based on his own professional experience as Managing Director of Robert Bosch Taiwan.
Besides presentations from the hosts and co-hosts at the briefing meeting, presentations were given on doing business in Taiwan by representatives from various business associations and companies including ECCT members Giuseppe Izzo, General Manager of STMicroelectronics and concurrently ECCT Vice Chairman; Peter Lemmens, General Manager of IMEC Taiwan and Nathan Kaiser from Eiger. Other speakers were Pedro Nunes, Head of Eureka; Stan Shih, Honorary Chairman of the Acer Group, Joseph Cheng, Vice Chairman of TEEMA; Steve Cheng, Vice President of Mitac and Jimmy Chu, Chairman of the Fair Friends Group.