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President Tsai attends 2023 EU Investment Forum
President Tsai attends 2023 EU Investment Forum

On the afternoon of October 12, President Tsai Ing-wen attended the opening of the 2023 European Union Investment Forum. In remarks at the event, President Tsai said that Taiwan and Europe share a commitment to building more resilient supply chains capable of withstanding disruptions. She stated that to Europe, Taiwan is a reliable partner with a proven track record, and that we look forward to ensuring the resilience of our supply chains through cooperation. The president emphasized that the cooperation between Taiwan and Europe, underpinned by our shared values and forward-looking policy, will help us bolster the industries and supply chains that make up the foundation of our prosperity, and added that she looks forward to seeing the fruits of our collaboration.

A transcript of President Tsai's remarks follows:

Let me begin by thanking the European Economic and Trade Office (EETO) for organizing this event in collaboration with the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Foreign Affairs.

I am pleased to say that I have participated in the European Investment Forum since its inception in 2020. Since then, the forum has continued to serve as an important platform for building and strengthening ties between Taiwan and Europe, as we are natural partners that share the same core values.

In 2022, trade between Taiwan and the EU for the first time exceeded US$75 billion. And with the increased presence of Taiwanese companies in Europe, as well as European companies in Taiwan, I am confident that this number will only continue to grow.

Contributing substantially to the growth of our partnership, European investment and know-how have been integral to the development of Taiwan's industries, the wind energy industry being a prime example in recent years.

As of this August, cumulative direct investment from EU firms in Taiwan exceeds US$57 billion, which accounts for more than a quarter of our total FDI (foreign direct investment). Today, the EU remains Taiwan's largest source of foreign investment.

Last year, the Taiwan-EU Trade and Investment Dialogue was upgraded for the first time to the ministerial/director-general level. And this past May, our Ministry of Economic Affairs and the European Commission's Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs jointly held an official Industrial Policy Dialogue, which is very good. 

In addition to our growing partnership in renewable energy, major international firms including ASML, Merck, and Air Liquide have all continued to invest in Taiwan. These investments represent significant milestones in the growth of Taiwan-EU bilateral trade and they reflect Europe's increasing recognition of Taiwan's key position in international supply chains.

Taiwanese companies are also making major inroads into Europe. This year, TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) is looking into an investment of US$3.8 billion in a facility in Germany. Taiwan and the Czech Republic are also fostering further opportunities for cooperation in the auto industry, precision machinery, and high-end laser equipment. 

And we have already seen notable progress in this area, as cumulative investment in Europe by Taiwanese firms this year totaled more than US$9.5 billion as of August, an increase of 17.5 percent over the same period last year.

With the intensifying economic cooperation, I would also like to talk about the issue of securing semiconductor supply chains. Taiwan and Europe, we are sharing a commitment to building more resilient supply chains capable of withstanding disruptions. The past few years have brought home the need to be ready to respond to changes in the geopolitical landscape and unprecedented global challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and climate change are reminders of how crucial international cooperation is to the maintenance of stability in our supply chains as well as in the broader economy. And Taiwan has a critical role to play in this international effort. Home to a complete semiconductor ecosystem, Taiwan is where over half of the world's semiconductors, and nearly all of the most advanced ones, are produced. These chips are not just a crucial component of the technologies that drive progress and growth today; they are powering the technologies that will shape the landscape of tomorrow. 

AI, green technology, 5G, and high-performance computing – all areas addressed in the EU's Digital Decade policy – require stable chip supply. And with the European Chips Act, which came into force just last month, the EU has taken a meaningful step toward supply security and enhanced resilience in this sector.

The EU also recognizes that Taiwan's chipmaking capacity and expertise are indispensable to realizing this ambition. In the joint communication on its Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, the EU stated that it will work with Taiwan to bolster semiconductor supply chains.

Several teams representing European countries also attended this year's SEMICON Taiwan, which attracted a record 62,000 visitors. Following SEMICON Taiwan, the EETO held an investment partnership forum on semiconductor clusters. All this is conducive to further cooperation between Taiwan and the EU.

Now, I want to talk about the future, particularly laying the foundation for future cooperation.

Lasting success, however, relies on more than the construction of new factories. It relies on the cultivation of new generations of talent that can take on the insights of the past and generate the innovations of the future.

With this in mind, five of the top universities in Taiwan are offering scholarships to students from Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic pursuing research in semiconductors.

Not only will the scholarship recipients strengthen connections between Taiwan and Europe; they will acquire knowledge accumulated over decades in Taiwan that gave rise to our world-leading semiconductor industry.

And with the CBAM (Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism) transitional phase beginning this month, we are also working to ensure that Taiwan's industries are able to maintain and strengthen their ties with the EU.

Our Ministry of Economic Affairs has discussed with the affected businesses and sent their recommendations to the EU. The ministry has also held workshops to help Taiwanese exporters adapt to new regulations and emissions reporting requirements.

Working toward our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, we hope to work with our European partners to promote sustainability, while maintaining the momentum for the development of our industries and economy.

Let me conclude by saying that countries around the world are competing to find their place amid a rapidly evolving chip market. It is thus imperative that trusted partners work together to ensure that our supply chains are resilient and ready to meet the increasing needs of a digital future.

To Europe, Taiwan is a reliable partner with a proven track record. I have every confidence that our joint efforts, underpinned by our shared values and forward-looking policy, will help us bolster the industries and supply chains that make up the foundation of our prosperity. And I look forward to seeing the fruits of our collaboration.

I wish you all a productive Forum and a pleasant stay in Taiwan. Thank you.

Also in attendance at the event were European Economic and Trade Office Head Filip Grzegorzewski, European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan Chairman Giuseppe Izzo, and members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Taiwan.

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