June 22, 2021
Remarks by AIT Director W. Brent Christensen at
Forum on Tech Supply Chain Partnership
June 22, 2021
Minister Wang, Representative Grzegorzewski, Deputy Representative Hoshino, distinguished panelists, and audience members, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the “Forum on Tech Supply Chain Partnership.” I am delighted to see that so many participants from Taiwan and our partner economies are joining virtually for today’s important forum.
As my three years as AIT Director will soon come to a close, I am proud to say that the work AIT has accomplished in raising awareness on securing resilient supply chains with Taiwan and our likeminded partners has been a great success. Our efforts towards building global supply chain resiliency have become a critical element of our shared prosperity and national security.
But before reviewing our many accomplishments, I wanted to take a moment at the top to reflect on the unique role that Taiwan plays at the center of global high-tech supply chains. Since the first time I arrived in Taiwan over 40 years ago up until now, I have watched how Taiwan’s ICT sector has established strong industry clusters and complete ICT value chains. Indeed, from the silicon wafers to the semiconductors to the installed components in the latest consumer electronics, Taiwan is truly the central node for global trade in ICT products. And Taiwan’s semiconductor industry is the envy of the world. It is no wonder that Taiwan continues to attract investment from major U.S. firms like Microsoft, Google, Micron, and Intel.
Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more clear how important Taiwan is to the world economy. As we evaluate what changes to global supply chains are necessary, one thing is certain: Taiwan has demonstrated time and again that it is a reliable partner and a critical player for moving towards a more sustainable global economy. Whether as a provider of trusted medical equipment or as a supplier of semiconductors for automotive assembly lines, Taiwan is an indispensable partner. Through all of these efforts, Taiwan companies continue to play a pivotal role in promoting and implementing global supply chain resiliency and creating new supply chains for the future.
Our shared work of securing supply chains is well under way. Starting from over a year and a half ago, AIT began working with Taiwan counterparts to hold a series of events large and small, public and private, bilateral and regional, to elevate and make progress on this issue. One of the key highlights from last year was the inaugural forum last September on the margins of the Czech Senate President’s visit to Taiwan. AIT co-hosted this landmark forum with Japan, the EU, and Taiwan – our same partners here today – to discuss supply chain restructuring. This forum broke new ground by exploring bilateral, regional, and global policy and commercial opportunities for cooperation on our shared priority of supply chain resiliency.
These same partners have been working together since then to accelerate our cooperation and bring about today’s event. Following the September 2020 forum, AIT and the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) issued a joint statement on strengthening our cooperation on supply chain restructuring and resiliency, especially in the tech and medical sectors. Last October marked the first time Taiwan hosted a session during the United States-led Indo-Pacific Business Forum, sharing lessons on the Taiwan Model for handling COVID-19 and how Taiwan forges public-private partnerships in the medical industry.
The United States has a unique opportunity to continue building upon the supply chain restructuring efforts that we started in Taiwan last year. In pursuit of this goal to secure critical supply chains, we are eager to work with our friends and partners who share similar values of free markets, rule of law, and strong protection of intellectual property. We believe these shared values, in turn, will enrich communities and economies throughout the Indo-Pacific. I am confident that we will expand our cooperation even further on this issue of utmost importance.
Today, among the distinguished guest speakers from the United States, the EU, Japan, and Taiwan who will join the panel presentations to share with you their insights, I would like to especially recognize the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Murray. His participation shows the importance that Washington places on Taiwan’s role as a critical economic and security partner.
Before I conclude, I would like to highlight the strength of the U.S.-Taiwan partnership, which is broad and deep, both in economic and commercial matters, and also in many other areas. We know that the past couple weeks have been a challenging time for Taiwan due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak. The United States and Taiwan have cooperated closely in dealing with the pandemic, and we were very pleased to see the arrival two days ago of the 2.5 million doses of Moderna vaccine donated by the United States to Taiwan. The American people will never forget Taiwan’s generosity in donating face masks and other medical supplies during the darkest days of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. We cherish our long-term tradition of helping each other when challenges arise.
I am sure that everyone will find something of value in today’s forum to help boost the resilience of global technology supply chains, making each of our economies stronger and more capable of dealing with the challenges of the modern era. Taiwan is a critical partner for the United States in securing resilient, sustainable supply chains, and I am confident our two economies will continue to expand our cooperation even further.
Finally, I want to once again thank our co-hosts, the European Economic and Trade Office, the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, and Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs for their support.