Text: Sba Administrator Philip Lader at the 20Th Annual Usa-Roc & Roc-Usa Economic Councils Joint Business Conference
Thank you for that very kind and generous introduction. It is an honor for me to represent the people of the United States here today. It is equally an honor to share the podium with President Lee Teng-hui and former Vice President Dan Quayle.
I also would like to thank our two hard working Chairmen, Jeffrey Koo and Daniel Tellep. They personify the energy and dynamism which has been the hallmark of these Councils and of the relationship between the United States and Taiwan.
When President Clinton visited Taiwan as Governor of Arkansas, he called on then Taiwan-Governor Lee Teng-hui. Although I was not present at these meetings, I am told there was a strong personal connection between these two leaders. I think that it is not merely a coincidence that both of these former governors have since been elected President on the theme of building a better future for their people. I believe that the prospects for the United States and Taiwan are unlimited, due in large measure to both of these presidents as they lead their respective communities into the next century.
As I reviewed the list of the Councils' members, many of Taiwan's and the United States' largest and most prestigious companies are represented. I would be remiss if I did not mention the central role that small and medium business plays in our respective economies. In the U.S., small and medium sized businesses employ fifty percent of the private workforce, generate more than half of our nation's GNP, and are the principal source of new jobs. And I know in Taiwan, small and medium sized businesses are what made your economic "miracle" possible. Taiwan is characterized by small, fast-moving and flexible firms that can react quickly to advances in technology and changes in the global marketplace. U.S. and Taiwan small and medium sized firms mean business all over the world.
Since the end of the Cold War, economic and trade issues have moved to the forefront of the foreign policy agenda in the United States. As we move together toward building a more open world economy, the issues which now define the post-Cold War era -- trade barriers, protective tariffs, agricultural subsidies, offset requirements, lack of intellectual property protection ? have replaced the debates over bipolarity, containment of communism and nuclear disarmament.
Our challenge today is to find ways to work together to address and overcome obstacles to trade. Despite these obstacles, I believe that the benefits and the need for a more liberalized trading regime are nearly universally recognized. One only has to look at Taiwan to see the remarkable impact which trade has had on the overall well-being of the people on Taiwan. The trade issues which confront the world community are therefore not IF we should seek open and free trade but rather HOW to achieve these goals.
U.S.-TAIWAN BILATERAL RELATIONS
It is clear that bilateralism and multilateralism have become incorporated into U.S. trade policy and that they have and will endure due to their bipartisan support in the United States. I have reflected on how these two pillars have become the foundation of our economic and trade relationship with Taiwan during my trip from the United States to Taiwan yesterday. In one of the best examples of bilateral cooperation, Taiwan was a major recipient of U.S. foreign assistance in the 1950's and 60's; Taiwan's industrialization was given a major boost when we granted to Taiwan the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which enabled Taiwan to have special access to the U.S. market; and even when the very nature of our relationship changed, the President Carter and the Congress through the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, reaffirmed our bilateral commitment to "Preserve and promote extensive, close and friendly commercial, cultural and other relations." Our bilateral trade and economic relationship has developed into a strong and enduring bond, which has stood the test of time.
U.S.-TAIWAN MULTILATERAL RELATIONS
In recognition of Taiwan's trade and commercial strength, the United States has actively supported Taiwan's participation in multilateral economic fora. In the early 1980's, the United States helped Taiwan to continue its membership in the Asian Development Bank. In 1991, we succeeded in having Taiwan enter the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Since 1992, we have been working in earnest to achieve Taiwan's accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
I would like to add a personal note. I have had the opportunity to observe Taiwan's participation in APEC and I can tell you that Taiwan has played an important and active role. I led the U.S. delegation to the APEC Small and Medium Enterprise Ministerial in September of this year in Cebu, Philippines. I believe that cooperation and future business opportunities between small and medium firms throughout the Asia Pacific region has very high potential. From integrating the 18 member economies' interactive SME homepages in the Internet to assisting SMEs to finance technological innovations through public-private partnerships, there are many opportunities which the U.S., Taiwan and the other APEC members can work together to promote the role of small and medium firms.
With the strong foundation of our bilateral relationship and the emerging development of our multilateral relationship, I believe that the future bodes well for our economic and commercial ties. We also take delight at the recent discovery of Taiwan by other trading partners. I understand the VIP lounge at CCK Airport has been quite busy with officials from the region and from Europe. As others discover what we in the United States have known and valued for a long time, I would only say that a high level visit does not make a relationship. A true relationship is based on a mutual appreciation and understanding; it is long-lasting and reciprocal; it is multifaceted; it is there in good times and bad. I am proud that ours is such a relationship. I am proud that our relationship will be the standard by which your new relationships will be measured.
SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS, WITH MORE YET TO BE DONE
As we assess our economic ties, it is only right to recognize the tremendous advancement which has taken place here in Taiwan. The wisdom of your leaders and the industriousness of your people have made Taiwan a major economic force. You have made remarkable progress in liberalizing your trade regime, lowering tariffs, opening markets and protecting intellectual property rights. These efforts are genuinely appreciated by our Administration and our business community.
No trading partner has a perfectly open and liberalized trade system, and this includes the United States. Therefore, while Taiwan has made significant progress, there is still more to be done. Over the last two decades, our bilateral relationship has been the vehicle for many of the improvements in your trading practices. As a consequence, some have cast the United States as being overly demanding with Taiwan. I would contend that despite some difficulties, the end result has been mutually beneficial. Your markets have become more open to the benefit of your consumers, and your firms are better able to compete internationally. It seems clear that the "Taiwan Miracle" would not have been possible if Taiwan had maintained its 1978 trade regime.
To sustain the "Miracle" will require continued liberalization here in Taiwan, especially in the areas of granting national treatment to financial and service industries; removing remaining restrictions on foreign investment; implementing open and transparent government procurement practices; and, reducing tariffs and trade barriers. Some of these issues will continue to be resolved bilaterally, while others will be addressed multilaterally, as part of Taiwan's WTO entry. Whatever the forum, I am confident that Taiwan will continue to bring its trade regime into line with its status as a strong and developed economy.
Taiwan is centered in the most economically dynamic region of the world. I have had the opportunity to be briefed on Taiwan's plans to establish itself as an East-Asian Regional Operations Center, which strikes me as a worthy objective as Taiwan enters the next stage of its phenomenal "Miracle." I can assure you that American firms, both large and small, look forward to making a substantial contribution to that effort.
Obviously, a critical element to the success of this economic program is the continued peace and stability in this region. The United States has played - and will continue to play - its role in deterring military threats and intimidation. Our policy toward Taiwan has not, and will not, change. We will maintain our unofficial relations and work to enhance our cooperation in appropriate areas. However, this is not by itself sufficient to ensure peace and stability. Everyone in this important region must also do their part. We hope to see both sides of the Taiwan Strait agree to resume their dialogue as soon as possible because we believe this is the only way that progress toward peaceful resolution can be achieved. Moreover, we believe that only in the context of such progress can the conditions essential to further economic growth in the region be maintained.
Our two peoples have enjoyed a remarkable association. The ingenuity of the Taiwan Relations Act has enabled us not only to maintain our relationship, but to enhance and expand it. The farsightedness of the founders of the Joint USA-ROC/ROC-USA Economic Councils has provided an invaluable forum for dialogue and commerce. Our mutual commitment to trade and international entrepreneurship has enabled both of us to benefit. I am confident that as the world community struggles to implement more liberalized and open trade, the strength of our relationship means that we will be on the same side.
Finally, I can assure you that we in the United States want to continue to play an important role as Taiwan becomes a more developed and technologically based economy. Our firms stand ready with their world class experience and can assist you in achieving your economic goals.
Together we are a winning combination. We are old and trusted friends. We can and I am sure we will strengthen this friendship in the business arena as we move forward bilaterally and multilaterally.
What we have achieved together is remarkable.
What we can yet achieve together is even more exciting.