European chamber urges fair treatment for foreigners, revision of labor laws

06/12/2020 07:16 PM
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European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan Chairman Giuseppe Izzo / CNA file photo
European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan Chairman Giuseppe Izzo / CNA file photo

Taipei, June 12 (CNA) The government should grant "national treatment" for foreigners living in Taiwan and revise outdated labor regulations if it wants to attract and retain international talent, a high-ranking official from the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) said Friday.

"In terms of treatment for foreign nationals, now we have seen situations where there is different treatment of foreign nationals versus Taiwanese citizens," ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo said in a panel discussion titled "Transforming Taiwan into an International Talent Hub."

Citing a stimulus voucher program as an example, which is part of a government move to boost spending and improve the economy, Izzo expressed disbelief that foreign nationals in Taiwan are excluded.

"That is unbelievable. People who live, work and pay taxes in Taiwan should be treated as citizens, at least from this point of view," Izzo said.

The panel discussion was part of a program to launch the Talent Circulation Alliance (TCA) White Paper, a compilation of policy recommendations from stakeholders across Taiwan on how best to transform Taiwan into an international talent hub.

Izzo also said that some practices he considers "outdated" have reduced the interest in international talent to work in Taiwan, citing the "clock-in clock-out" system as an example.

"I don't think that productivity can be measured by the number of hours we work and when we work," he said.

Another suggestion from the chamber is for the Taiwanese authorities to simplify the application process for work permits, which he described as "difficult."

"The process should be made predictable, transparent, consistent and simple, so that people can judge, evaluate and plan their stays in Taiwan accordingly," Izzo said.

He lauded the government's issuance of 720 "Employment Gold Cards" to foreign professionals since 2018. However, the application process is still very complex and needs to be simplified and streamlined, he said.

Lastly, Izzo urged the government to make it easier for foreigners or foreign educational organizations to set up schools in Taiwan and to allow more flexibility for such schools to hire the teachers of their choice.

Meanwhile, Tim Shields, vice chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taipei, pointed out the need for Taiwan to improve its people's foreign language proficiency, as international companies in Taiwan have difficulty sending local talent overseas.

He also agreed that Taiwan should relax some of its labor regulations and provide more flexibility, depending on the nature of industry, to transform Taiwan into an international talent hub.

Shields urged Taiwan to improve its laws relating to cloud computing and digital security, to bring them up to par with countries such as Japan and Singapore, to attract more international talent and stop the exodus of local talent.

(By Pan Tzu-yu and Emerson Lim)

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