U.S., Taiwan agree to promote alternatives to Chinese supply chain

09/04/2020 10:10 PM
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From left: TAITRA Chairman James Huang, EU Representative in Taiwan Filip Grzegorzewski, Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil, AIT Director Brent Christensen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and JTEA Representative Hiroyasu Izumi. CNA photo Sept. 4, 2020
From left: TAITRA Chairman James Huang, EU Representative in Taiwan Filip Grzegorzewski, Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil, AIT Director Brent Christensen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and JTEA Representative Hiroyasu Izumi. CNA photo Sept. 4, 2020

Taipei, Sept. 4 (CNA) The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) have agreed to work closer together to restructure the global supply chain and make it more resilient, in an apparent attempt to avoid overreliance on China, especially in the ICT and medical sectors.

The agreement was made public in a joint statement issued on Friday by the AIT, the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan, and TAITRA, a Taiwanese government-supported trade promotion organization.

According to the statement, the partnership will focus on encouraging partners to bring supply chains closer to home or situate them in like-minded economies, and ensuring that supply chains are secure and free from political coercion.

Aside from that, the partnership will also focus on engaging with like-minded partners to develop new supply chains based on shared values, standards, and best practices to create crisis-resilient networks.

The two sides will seek to share best practices and cooperate on a range of activities, including developing supply chain resilience in like-minded priority regions, such as India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the Visegrad Group.

The Visegrad Group is composed of four Central European countries, including Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The joint statement was issued after a forum on supply chain restructuring, co-organized by AIT, TAITRA, Taiwan's foreign and economic ministries, the European Economic and Trade Office (EETO) and the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JTEA).

AIT Director Brent Christensen mentioned in his remarks that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the risks of relying too much on a single country or supplier for critical materials and for inputs to strategically important industries.

"As we plan for a post-pandemic world and evaluate what changes to the global supply chain are necessary, one thing is certain: Taiwan has demonstrated time and again that it is a reliable partner and a critical player for moving toward a more sustainable global economy," Christensen said, explaining why the U.S. wants to work with Taiwan in this regard.

Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Taiwan's Foreign Minister, pointed out that many countries began to worry about critical materials such as medical supplies being "weaponized or politicized" during the pandemic.

"What would happen if a country's strategic industries and key infrastructure were in the hands of another during a time of crisis -- another country that does not honor the values of the rule of law, freedom, democracy, and transparency?" Wu said, in a veiled reference to China.

He said discussions between Taiwan and like-minded democracies from Europe, Asia and North America are underway regarding supply chain cooperation in the semiconductor, medical and energy industries.

Also present at the forum were visiting Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil, JTEA Representative Hiroyasu Izumi, and TAITRA Chairman James Huang (黃志芳).

The purpose of the forum, titled "Improving Resilience Amongst Like-Minded Partners," was to discuss a variety of policy tools to restructure supply chains while ensuring that businesses and economies can thrive, according to the AIT.

It explored bilateral, regional, and global opportunities for cooperation on this shared priority, the AIT added.

(By Chen Yun-yu and Emerson Lim)

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