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U.S. business group urges action on power supply, labor laws

2018/06/06 12:25:18

Taipei, June 6 (CNA) The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) urged Taiwan's government on Wednesday to provide a detailed plan ensuring a stable electricity supply and take action to allow more flexible working hours for professionals to keep Taiwan competitive.

At a press event to unveil the group's 2018 Taiwan White Paper, AmCham Chairman Albert Chang (章錦華) praised the government for its efficiency over the past 12 months in resolving the 11 of the 83 issues raised in its 2017 White Paper -- the most since the group started tracking the results in 2004.

This was a big improvement considering that none of the 80 issues raised in AmCham's 2016 Taiwan White Paper were considered solved by the time the 2017 White Paper was released, Chang said.

"The major turnaround in 2017 was largely due to unprecedented cooperation with the government," Chang said, praising the efforts of National Development Council chief Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶), who presided over meetings that delved into each of the 83 issues.

The most significant of the resolved issues was the pharmaceutical committee's call for passage of legislation creating a patent linkage system, bolstering Taiwan's Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection by helping ensure that patent-infringing drugs are kept off the market, Chang said.

Challenges still remain, however, according AmCham.

One of them is that the government needs to provide absolute assurances that Taiwan will continue to have a sufficient, stable and cost-competitive electrical power supply given Taiwan's plan to become nuclear-free and dramatically reduce carbon emissions by 2025.

"The government needs to provide detailed plans for energy development," Chang said, warning that without such plans, American companies could choose other countries over Taiwan for their investments.

The AmCham chairman praised the government's revisions to Taiwan's Labor Standards Act in January 2018 that overturned some of the previous revisions passed by the same government in late 2016.

But Chang called for another amendment to meet the needs of both employees and employers in a knowledge-based economy, as professional and managerial personnel should have greater flexibility in terms of working hours than blue-collar workers.

Meanwhile, in its "Message to Washington" section, AmCham Taipei urged the U.S. government to adhere to a regular annual schedule of bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks.

The suggestion came after last year's scheduled TIFA talks were suspended because the U.S. had yet to fill its vacant deputy trade representative posts.

AmCham Taipei also called on Washington to utilize the Taiwan Travel Act passed earlier this year to send more high-level officials to Taiwan, Chang noted.

Alex Wong (黃之瀚), a deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, attended AmCham Taipei's annual banquet in March.

He was the first U.S. official to visit Taiwan after U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the Taiwan Travel Act, which promotes meetings and visits between high-ranking American and Taiwanese government officials.

Established in 1951, AmCham Taipei is a nonprofit, nonpartisan business organization dedicated to promoting the interests of American and international businesses in Taiwan.

It has published the Taiwan White Paper annually since 1996 to provide suggestions on how to strengthen the local business climate.

(By Joseph Yeh)
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