On the evening of August 25, President Tsai Ing-wen attended the American Chamber of Commerce Taipei (AmCham Taipei) Hsieh Nien Fan (謝年飯) celebration. She emphasized that the Taiwan government is committed to securing a robust investment environment to the benefit of us all. The president also stated that we look forward to working continuously with the US government and AmCham Taipei to facilitate our mutual interests through our shared values.
A transcript of President Tsai's remarks follows:
It is my great pleasure to join you all again at this year's Hsieh Nien Fan.
First of all, I want to congratulate Mr. [C.W.] Chin on taking up his position as AmCham Taipei's chairperson. I had a wonderful meeting with him at the Presidential Office last week, where we exchanged our visions and expectations for the Taiwan-US economic partnership for the next few years. With Mr. Chin's efforts and leadership, Applied Materials launched its second combined display manufacturing center and laboratory at Tainan's Southern Taiwan Science Park last June. And we thank you for that.
Tonight, I feel very happy and grateful for our ability to gather here. It is my understanding that the annual Hsieh Nien Fan is an opportunity to give thanks to partners and friends, and we have plenty to be thankful for.
But this year, I am extremely thankful to see you all here and in good health, your businesses continue to operate in Taiwan and you are able to work at the office.
My government and I will continue to protect public health and the economic environment in Taiwan, so that domestic and international business communities can run their operations without worries.
I am also happy to see AIT's Director, my good friend, [William Brent] Christensen here. Brent has also been working tirelessly for quite a while now in facilitating visits of high-ranking US government officials, the most recent one, of course, being the visit of Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar this month. Secretary Azar's visit exemplified the strong partnership between Taiwan and the United States.
This strong partnership between Taiwan and the United States has been made even stronger by the important role played by AmCham Taipei.
My own friendship with members of AmCham Taipei has spanned the past two decades: as a trade negotiator, minister, vice premier, chairperson of the opposition, and as President of Taiwan. Your organization is the link between Taiwan and American businesses.
I want to take this opportunity to thank AmCham Taipei for recognizing our pandemic prevention efforts and for presenting us with many very useful economic and trade policy recommendations in the annual Taiwan White Paper published in June.
I was more than happy to learn from this report that 11 of the 82 – or 13% – of the issues raised in last year's Taiwan White Paper have been resolved, tying the record set two years ago.
I am also very interested in the new additional chapter of the White Paper, focusing on developing talent and cultivating a more internationalized workforce. I am pleased to know AmCham Taipei is a partner of this Talent Circulation Alliance launched by AIT last year. All these efforts will help Taiwan become a critical force in and asset to the global economy, and the US' most reliable partner in Asia, as we face the realignment of global supply chains.
I was even more delighted to read, in your Business Climate Survey this year, that most member companies of AmCham Taipei (70.6%) showed increased optimism about Taiwan's economic outlook in the next three years, and that the US-China trade dispute has had a mainly positive impact on Taiwan's economy, and has not had a large negative effect on your businesses. This is a demonstration of Taiwan's economic resilience amidst the uncertain time we find ourselves in.
Recent data shows that Taiwan's economy has held up well amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Taiwan's first quarter growth rate of 2.2% is the highest among the Four Asian Tigers, and the projection for the entire year is 1.56%.
And, the key reason for the strong performance was that Taiwan did not have to enforce a lockdown. Manufacturing plants continued to run as normal. There was also high demand for ICT products and services, which is being boosted by an increase in investment in semi-conductor and 5G infrastructure, and the demand for home-working equipment. This boost has enabled Taiwan to secure stable economic development to ride out the worst of the global downturn.
Taiwan has also made progress in terms of energy policy, labor policy and our regulatory framework. On regulation, we have increased the period for public comment to 60 days since 2016. More than 70% of all regulations now fall under this period, and we will continue to find ways to reduce unnecessary regulations, while upholding the principle of transparency and accountability.
In other words, my government is taking the necessary, proactive steps to tackle the issues raised by AmCham, while introducing more incentives, tax breaks and otherwise, for foreign companies to invest in Taiwan.
The partnership between Taiwan and the United States goes back more than 70 years. And, for the past few decades, the unyielding friendship between Taiwan and the United States has also served as a cornerstone for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. This partnership was made even stronger as Taiwan and the United States are faced with the challenges of the pandemic and authoritarian influence. "The Joint Statement on a Partnership against Coronavirus" set the tone for our sharing of medical resources and collaboration in developing life-saving vaccines.
Our partnership was then further solidified by the signing of an MoU on health cooperation, to expand cooperation on global health security, infectious disease control and vaccine development.
As Secretary Azar said during the signing, this formalized the more than two decades of collaboration between the health ministries of both sides. And, in addition to health cooperation, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) also launched the Taiwan-US Business Alliance.
This close partnership between Taiwan and the United States has also given us the opportunity to advocate for further cooperation in the form of a bilateral trade agreement (BTA). Such an agreement would allow Taiwan and the United States to capitalize on the complementary nature of our industries, enhance our bilateral economic and trade exchanges and create even more business opportunities that would ultimately benefit both countries.
I know the members of AmCham Taipei have been following the progress of a BTA between Taiwan and the United States very closely. We sincerely appreciate and welcome your recommendations to the US government. A strong, consistent and stable partnership between Taiwan and the United States is not only beneficial to both sides, it also contributes to the maintenance of the prosperous, free and open Indo-Pacific region.
In closing, I want to assure you that my government is committed to securing a robust investment environment to the benefit of us all. We look forward to working continuously with the US government and AmCham Taipei to facilitate our mutual interests through our shared values.
2020 has been a year of challenges. Even though we have entered into uncharted waters, we have persevered.
Taiwan is precious and unique. It needs your continued support. I can assure you, you will find an unwavering partner, a friend who is dedicated and capable in contributing to the prosperity of both our countries and the Indo-Pacific region.
President Tsai then invited Chairperson Chin and Director Christensen to raise a toast to the Taiwan-US friendship.