On the evening of April 21, President Tsai Ing-wen attended the annual Hsieh Nien Fan (謝年飯) banquet hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan (AmCham Taiwan). In remarks at the event, President Tsai reiterated that her administration will continue to take concrete action to strengthen the close economic partnership between Taiwan and the US, and emphasized that Taiwan will keep working with like-minded countries to uphold freedom and security in the region while creating an ideal environment for economic recovery and development.
A transcript of President Tsai's remarks follows:
It seems like we were here not so long ago at last year's Hsieh Nien Fan. It is my pleasure to join you all again at this festive gathering. I believe this is the first Hsien Nien Fan after AmCham Taipei changed its name to AmCham Taiwan—a name that is a true reflection of the work and memberships of your organization. As always, I am very happy to participate in this gathering of friends.
I want to begin by congratulating AmCham Taiwan on its 70th anniversary. AmCham Taiwan was here when Taiwan underwent democratization. It also bore witness to the development, opening, and transformation of Taiwan's economy. AmCham Taiwan has always been a dependable partner to Taiwan and the United States during many critical junctures in our relationship.
Secondly, I also want to recognize Chairman Leo Seewald for leading and facilitating AmCham Taiwan's relationship with Taiwan's business community over the past year. Under Mr. Seewald's leadership, this year, we have a record number of central and local government officials attending tonight's dinner. Mr. Seewald is an eleven-year resident and citizen of Taiwan. With his care and love for this country, I have no doubt that Mr. Seewald will continue to contribute to the partnership between Taiwan and the United States.
I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Andrew Wylegala for taking on the role of AmCham Taiwan President. With Mr. Wylegala's remarkable experience in international trade and investment, I am confident our relationship will continue to flourish. We look forward to working with AmCham Taiwan under your leadership.
After more than a year of closures, lockdowns, and other pandemic restrictions, countries around the world are now looking to revive economic growth. Many obstacles still remain, though, and there is a long way to go before the global economy can recover and return to normal.
But, in Taiwan, we persevered and even prospered. All of you here are witnesses to this. We were able to effectively deal with the spread of COVID-19 through collaboration between our government, industries, civil society, and citizens. The data continues to show that Taiwan's economy has held up extremely well amid the pandemic.
As a matter of fact, Taiwan's economic growth rate in 2020 was 3.11 percent, highest among the world's 30 largest economies by GDP. We are also forecasting economic growth of 4.64 percent this year—our highest since 2015. The dynamism of Taiwan's economy is key to all of this.
I was happy to learn that in this year's Business Climate Survey, 86 percent of your members feel optimistic about Taiwan's economic growth this year. And almost 80 percent of you also feel positive about Taiwan's economic performance in the next three years. I am even happier to learn that 40 percent of AmCham members have plans to expand recruitment.
So, I want to take this moment to thank you all for your confidence and support for Taiwan. We will continue to take proactive steps to improve our energy, digital, and labor policies, as well as our regulatory framework, to ensure that Taiwan continues to be an ideal location for foreign investment and relocation.
Now, countries and companies around the world are preparing to reinvigorate their trade and business relationships. I am pleased to see exceptional individuals and companies relocating to Taiwan. Last September, I handed out Employment Gold Card number 1000 to a foreign professional at the Presidential Office. This Gold Card represents our effort to attract and recruit outstanding professionals to Taiwan. It also exemplifies the numerous opportunities available amid the restructuring of global supply chains.
Since 2018, our government has issued 2,447 Employment Gold Cards in total. And 30 percent of these were issued to Americans, including YouTube Co-founder Steve Chen and quite a few professionals from Silicon Valley.
In addition, following major investment announcements from American corporations, such as GE, CTCI Corporation, Applied Materials, Google, and Microsoft, Cisco also opened a Cybersecurity Talent Incubation Center in Linkou's Startup Terrace—the first in the region for Cisco.
This Center is expected to serve as a platform for IT specialists to exchange views, to cultivate new talent, and to provide solutions in areas such as software-defined networking, cybersecurity, cloud technology, and the Internet of Things. We firmly believe that through this kind of cooperation, the mutually beneficial relationship between Taiwanese and American firms can continue to thrive.
With such a close partnership between the Taiwanese and American business communities, I want to reiterate my government's commitment to prioritizing this partnership through concrete actions. To this end, we established quite a few collaborative mechanisms last year. This included the Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation, and the signing of, and working group meeting under, the Framework to Strengthen Infrastructure Finance and Market Building Cooperation.
We also held the inaugural Taiwan-US Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue last November. The collaboration discussed at that dialogue is vigorously underway, in forums like the Roundtable on Prospects for Taiwan-US Semiconductor Supply Chain Cooperation held on February 5th.
President Biden's executive order to create more resilient and secure supply chains for critical and essential goods is a key area where Taiwan can help. Taiwan's semiconductor industry plays a critical role in securing supply chains around the world and is a significant part of the Taiwan-US trade relationship. We stand ready to be a reliable friend and key partner to the United States. That is why I was delighted to see TSMC participate in the White House summit to strengthen US supply chains and address the global semiconductor shortage.
Lastly, I want to conclude by extending our appreciation to AmCham Taiwan and the US-Taiwan Business Council (USTBC) for establishing the US-Taiwan Bilateral Trade Agreement Coalition. Thank you for your staunch support for solidifying the bilateral trade partnership between Taiwan and the United States in the form of a bilateral trade agreement. Our economic partnership can also be strengthened further by resuming talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to lay the foundation for our BTA negotiations.
Having been involved in Taiwan's trade negotiations for many years, I fully understand the immeasurable importance of trade and investment for our partnerships. So you can rest assured that our government will uphold our commitment to improving and maintaining a robust trade and investment environment.
Last year was a challenge for all of us. The pandemic brought about significant changes in the geopolitical and economic order. With the introduction of the vaccine, there is hope that the pandemic can be brought under control, hopefully in the near future. In the meantime, Taiwan will continue to work with like-minded countries to maintain a free and secure region and provide an ideal environment for economic recovery and development.
I look forward to the remarks from Senator [Edward] Markey, Counselor [Derek] Chollet, and Deputy Assistant Secretary [Richard] Steffens. Thanks to Senator Markey's introduction of the Taiwan Fellowship Act, United States government employees can be part of an exchange program to learn, live, and work in Taiwan.
With good friends like Senator Markey, and our recent visitors former Senator [Christopher] Dodd and Deputy Secretaries of State [Richard] Armitage and [James] Steinberg, I am confident the relationship between Taiwan and the United States will continue to be rock-solid.
Finally, thank you to AmCham Taiwan. I know you will continue to be a true friend and partner to Taiwan over the next 70 years as well.