Launch of the 2020 Position Papers
Editor’s note: Articles in Insideview have been shortened from their original length. To read the full articles, please visit the Event Reports section of the ECCT’s website at www.ecct.com.tw
The ECCT’s 2020 Position Papers were officially released at a Premium Event lunch.
A copy of the annual publication was officially handed over by ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo to the Taiwan government, represented by Chen Mei-ling, Minister of the National Development Council (NDC). The event was also attended by around 100 guests, including board directors, committee chairpersons, European trade office representatives and other ECCT members. A summary of the main theme and overview were presented at the event by the chairman. Following the lunch, the papers were released to the media at a press conference, which was attended by around 30 journalists from print, television and online media groups.
The overview notes that we are living in VUCA times – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Governments, businesses and citizens the world over are facing multiple challenges - geopolitical, environmental and economic. At the same time, social trends and advances in technology are opening up multiple new golden opportunities.
Dealing with the multiple demands of the VUCA world is already a heavy burden for corporations. The best approach to achieve lasting economic success is for all stakeholders to align their strategies and actions to overcome the threats and capitalise on the opportunities. The overview goes on to give a summary of actions the government could take to help all stakeholders to overcome the challenges, capitalise on the opportunities and tip the scale in Taiwan’s favour.
Aligning with international standards and best practices: ECCT members from a number of committees list issues in their papers where Taiwan authorities have deviated from international standards and best practices and points out that aligning with international standards and best practices would level the playing field for foreign companies and help make local companies more competitive in the international market, thereby making it much easier for all stakeholders to capitalise on opportunities.
Addressing the skills and labour shortage: The shortage of both skilled and unskilled workers is weighing down Taiwan’s ability to capitalise on economic opportunities. To address this, the ECCT’s Human Resources (HR) committee has recommended further labour law reforms to develop, attract and retain talent while the ECCT’s Better Living committee calls for removing the remaining instances of unequal and discriminatory treatment of foreign nationals.
Speeding up the energy transition: The transition away from fossil fuel-generated energy to low and zero emissions alternatives is essential to address the threat of climate change. It also represents another golden opportunity for Taiwan given the island’s perfect conditions for tapping into abundant renewable energy sources. The ECCT’s Wind Energy and Energy & Environment committees recommend further reform of energy policies, including a deregulation of the energy market, to permit and allow the implementation of multiple business models for the installation, sale and use of renewable energy.
Capitalising on mobility opportunities: There are multiple golden opportunities in the transportation sector to improve the efficiency, quality and comfort of transport as well as ways to address climate change and pollution. The ECCT’s Mobility committee recommends developing a comprehensive plan, which includes attractive incentives, to build a nationwide electric vehicle charging network, clear and internationally-aligned standards for charging stations and consumer-friendly operating and billing systems for electric vehicle (EV) battery charging.
Dealing with demographic changes: Taiwan has one of the world’s lowest birth rates and most rapidly-ageing populations. There is no simple solution to this phenomenon, which is not unique to Taiwan. Among other mitigation initiatives, the ECCT’s healthcare and insurance committees recommend spreading the burden of healthcare costs by allowing co-payments for more drugs and devices and encouraging more types of private health insurance products. In terms of pension reform, the Asset Management committee recommends emulating examples from other countries that have been successful in encouraging residents to set aside larger portions of their incomes for their pensions and offer a greater variety of pension plans for employees.
Capitalising on digitalisation, AI, IoT, 5G and other innovations: Digitalisation, IoT and AI have the potential to be either threats or opportunities for Taiwan. The ECCT’s Banking and Technology committees recommend more flexible regulations that would stimulate the development of Financial Technology (FinTech), such as liberalising payment services and developing a secure and open Application Programming Interface (API) and database. The Telecommunications, Media and Content committee recommends more regulatory clarity and support for 5G, including lower utilisation fees, a lower reserve price for 5G frequency and extended tax credits for 5G equipment. The Pharmaceutical committee advocates more action to improve the chances of clinical trials in Taiwan being recognised as multi-regional clinical trials (MRCT).
Capitalising on the food transition: The ECCT has welcomed the government’s shift towards organic food through the Organic Agriculture Promotion Act, which came into force on 30 May 2019. However, more could be done to support local farmers in Taiwan to transition from conventional to organic farming practices through tax and other incentives. In addition, authorities should clarify rules, simplify the documentary requirements and facilitate the import process for organic products from the EU that are not available locally.
Pursuing trade agreements: The ECCT continues to support the government’s efforts to pursue international trade deals, especially an EU-Taiwan Bilateral Investment Agreement (BIA) that also addresses non-tariff barriers, which would boost economic growth and create jobs in both Europe and Taiwan.
Conclusion: The overview concludes that the government has demonstrated a will to tackle difficult problems and made great progress in resolving difficult issues. However, there is more that authorities could do to overcome challenges. The ECCT therefore urges the government to continue to engage in constructive and comprehensive consultations with the ECCT and work together to capitalise on great economic opportunities available in the modern era for mutual economic and social prosperity and thereby tip the scale decisively in Taiwan’s favour.
After receiving a copy of the papers, NDC Minister Chen Mei-ling gave a short presentation in which she highlighted some of the main areas the government aims to address including technology transformation and the digital economy, demographic change, developing talent locally and attracting talent from abroad, extreme weather and climate change.
She also acknowledged the need to ensure equality of treatment for foreign nationals. Regarding the long-standing issue of the number format of Alien Resident Certificates (ARCs) for foreign nationals, the minister announced that, starting from October 2020, a new ID numbering system for ARCs that is compatible with ROC ID numbers will be rolled out.
She went on to say that the government remained committed to a transition to renewable energy and is making progress in this regard by developing an industrial supply chain for solar energy and the opening of the first offshore wind farm by the end of 2019, something she said would not have been possible without European companies in the wind energy sector.
The minister went on to talk about developments in digital technologies, noting that the NDC is working closely with its counterparts in the EU to discuss the optimal regulatory framework for the digital economy.
Press conference launch
Immediately following the lunch, the position papers were released to the media at a press conference.
The press conference was attended by committee chairpersons from the ECCT’s Asset Management, Banking, Better Living, Electrical Engineering & Equipment, Energy & Environment, Human Resources, Mobility, Retail & Distribution and Wind Energy committees.
At the conference committee co-chairs gave short briefings on some of the main issues facing members in their various industries and answered questions from media representatives. The press conference and issues discussed at the launch were widely covered in the media in the days following the launch.
Open Door Mission to Brussels
Besides presenting the position papers to the Taiwan government, the ECCT will use the papers as the basis for briefing the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Council and business organisations based in Europe. To this end, an ECCT delegation comprising board directors, committee chairs and staff will visit Brussels in mid-December for its annual “Open Door Mission”, a series of meetings aimed at providing European officials, business leaders and various other institutions with a comprehensive update on the current political, investment and regulatory environment in Taiwan.
ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo (6th from right) and CEO Freddie Hoglunc (6th left) together with committee chairpersons at the press conference launch of the 2020 Position Papaers.