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ECCA Position Papers Urges Taiwan to Enhance Trade with EU

Dec 10, 2014 | By CENS

The European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) released the 2015 Position Papers late November urging Taiwan to enhance trade with Europe by removing constraints imposed by locally-developed standards and actively working on the signing of Trade Enhancement Measures (TEM) with EU.

The ECCT believes the impending free trade agreement (FTA) between China and South Korea will not influence investment plans and willingness  of Europeans in Taiwan, instead being concerned about technical barriers, redundant regulations and administrative effectiveness.

The Position Papers, obviously being politically-correct than perhaps truthful, states that Taiwan has built solid foundation for future prosperity, but seems lacking in ambition, vision, confidence and determination although Taiwan's remarkable economic and social progress over the past decades have created ideal conditions for future development. “Taiwan has many advantages but more could be done to boost competitiveness, trade and investment,” ECCT Chairman Chris James says.

Taiwan lags its three major regional economic rivals—South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. Although Taiwan has gradually progressed towards improving its business environment over the past two decades, the pace of reform in recent years has still been slow, James adds.

Pointing to red tape in Taiwan, he notes that local government continues to set and enforce numerous local safety regulations and require additional testing of European products that already meet European Union standards for health, safety and quality. Such practice adds administrative burden and cost to suppliers and in some cases prompt producers and importers to simply back out the market.

The ECCT suggests Taiwan should head toward becoming a smart city pioneer, healthcare innovation hub, regional financial center and renewable energy showcase.

The Papers says Taiwan has the potential to become a showcase for smart, low carbon city if the most advanced solutions are implemented to improve energy efficiency, connectivity and transportation infrastructure. Besides, Taiwan should implement stricter building codes, promote green building technology, promote smart metering and building system integration, utilize the most advantageous technologies for all government building projects, and build electric mobility infrastructure.

Taiwan has a comprehensive healthcare system to provide high level of healthcare to citizens, and Taiwan is also an ideal location for clinical drug trials and medical tourism. To realize the vision to become a healthcare innovation hub, the papers recommend Taiwan to develop a plan to separate drug dispensing from prescription, shorten time to approve and access innovative medicines and introduce co-pay and rebalance patient flow from hospitals to general practitioners, without addressing the critical issue of the Taiwanese mindset that may be the core problem.

Taiwan has stable government and judicial system, well-developed, sophisticated and liquid financial markets, strong investor base and  broad range of competitive players. However, to realize the vision to become a regional financial center, a number of reforms are needed to make the regulatory environment governing financial services competitive versus regional rivals, especially Hong Kong and Singapore.

The papers emphasize Taiwan being an ideal location for renewable energy, particularly wind and solar energy, given abundant sunshine and strong winds, particularly along the coast. Taiwan is also a major producer of photovoltaic (PV) panels although most production is designated for export. So the building blocks to become a major producer and consumer of renewable energy are in place. Other recommendations include liberalizing the electricity market, setting reasonable prices for renewable energy, allowing public participation in renewable energy projects and making simple connecting to the grid.

Besides presenting the position papers to the Taiwan government, the ECCT will also refer to the papers to brief the European Commission, the European parliament and the European Council. (JL)


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