Remarks by AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk at the AmCham Taiwan Annual General Membership Meeting
Chairperson CW Chin, AmCham Board Members, and AmCham Members.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to participate in AmCham Taiwan’s first-ever virtual annual general meeting. I have been very impressed by both Taiwan and AmCham Taiwan’s ability to adapt in these pandemic-affected times.
Last month, I had the opportunity to both meet in-person with AmCham’s officers and to participate in my first AmCham-AIT jointly organized event: the Healthcare Innovation Forum.
The Healthcare Innovation Forum was an outstanding example of the benefits U.S. technology can bring to Taiwan, resulting in better outcomes for Taiwan patients and conserving funding for new public health objectives.
I look forward to continued engagement with AmCham throughout my tenure at AIT, including through upcoming events like the November 24th Healthy Aging Forum.
This year is truly a momentous one with your rebranding as “AmCham Taiwan,” AmCham Taiwan’s upcoming 70th anniversary, and an upswing in AmCham Taiwan membership to the highest level ever.
AIT and AmCham Taiwan are natural partners. Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, AIT is tasked with the continuation of – and I quote – “commercial, cultural and other relations between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan.”
I note that in that sentence, “commercial relations” are listed first. So you can see that from the outset the business community and trade and investment have been a pillar of our relationship.
At the same time, AmCham Taiwan is the largest foreign business Chamber in Taiwan. As AIT seeks to promote commercial ties between the United States and Taiwan, AmCham remains a natural partner to solicit the opinions of the businesses we seek to promote and serve.
I’d like to first talk about the broader context of U.S.-Taiwan ties, then focus on more specific examples of cooperation that many of you have worked so hard to facilitate.
To start, the U.S.-Taiwan relationship is in a really good place.
We have seen over the course of the past year Taiwan’s successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Taiwan was there for us in spring 2020 when it provided millions of masks and other badly needed PPE to the United States, and we are proud that we have been able to donate four million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Taiwan.
We value our partnership and our support for Taiwan is rock solid. We are committed to deepening our ties with Taiwan – a leading democracy and a critical economic and security partner.
Here I’d like to stress that while we have seen significant policy shifts under the Biden Administration in some areas, the fundamentals of our relationship with Taiwan remain the same. All presidents leave their own mark on U.S. foreign policy, and President Biden will do this too.
We already know several significant new areas of policy focus – prioritizing climate change, energizing White House efforts to combat COVID around the globe, and promoting U.S. and global recovery from the pandemic.
On trade and investment, we are committed to expanding our economic partnership with Taiwan. And we look forward to working with AmCham and your members to make that a reality.
The resumption of TIFA talks is an excellent example of cooperation between AIT and AmCham Taiwan. Both in the run up to the talks and since, AmCham member companies contributed vital input on Taiwan business conditions. That partnership helped make the TIFA talks a success.
The TIFA is, of course, an ongoing process with continuing working group discussions, but I would like to take a moment to highlight a recent area of progress.
On October 21st Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that Medical Device Single Audit Program Reports – also known as MDSAP Reports – are now accepted in lieu of U.S. FDA-issued Establishment Inspection Reports – also known as EIRs – for consideration for expedited review by the Taiwan FDA for medical device regulatory approval in Taiwan.
On the surface, this issue seems relatively arcane, but the issue had remained outstanding between the United States and Taiwan since before the last TIFA meeting in 2016.
Since the U.S. FDA now rarely issues EIRs, both sides agreed that an administrative change should not prevent Taiwan patients from accessing innovative U.S. medical devices – and resolving this issue will benefit American businesses too.
Talks are a precondition to solving problems, and when the United States and Taiwan hold trade talks, we can make important progress on longstanding issues. The MDSAP issue was the top irritant that AmCham’s medical device committee identified in the annual AmCham White Paper.
Despite positive progress at the TIFA talks, challenges remain, such as the pork issue. However, we must continue to proactively engage our Taiwan counterparts on thorny topics. And we rely on you – the U.S. business community – to help identify those topics and to help come up with creative solutions.
Turning to supply chains, we know that Taiwan has been a strong partner as the United States seeks to promote secure and reliable global supply chains for critical goods.
I already mentioned Taiwan’s generous donation of PPE to the United States at the beginning of my remarks, but Taiwan didn’t just donate PPE, more importantly Taiwan ramped up production to ensure supply met demand.
As President Biden has said, “building resilience will mean increasing our production of certain types of elements here at home.
In others, it’ll mean working more closely with our trusted friends and partners…so that our supply chains can’t be used against us as leverage.”
We count Taiwan as one of our trusted friends, and the shared work of securing supply chains is well under way. For over two years, AIT has been working with Taiwan counterparts and the business community to elevate this issue through a series of events, presentations, and engagements.
Our shared economic prosperity is a key pillar of our relationship. More than ever, topics that used to be considered simply “economic” or “tech” issues have become critical elements of national security.
For example, AIT was delighted to participate in the recent inaugural meeting of AmCham Taiwan’s Semiconductor Committee and applauds AmCham’s efforts in establishing this committee. U.S. and Taiwan companies command the lion’s share of the global semiconductor market.
U.S. companies maintain nearly half of global semiconductor sales, including 65% of the fabless market, making the United States the ideal partner for Taiwan and its fabs, which in turn control more than half of the global foundry business.
On top of that, Taiwan’s ecosystem is more than just foundries. Taiwan’s fabless companies are some of the world’s fastest growing and Taiwan is also home to market-leading testing and packaging companies. As the United States and Taiwan together confront the global shortage of semiconductors, new fora for conversations are key to addressing this issue.
Another area ripe for U.S.-Taiwan cooperation is in electric vehicles. We stand at a tipping point; individuals in both the United States and Taiwan are now asking themselves, “What type of vehicle will I buy next – will it be gasoline-powered or electric?”
Already, Tesla, the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, relies heavily on Taiwanese suppliers. Moreover, Taiwan firms will play a key part in the United States’ rollout of electric charging infrastructure. And as many of you know, during the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Business Forum on October 29th, AIT cohosted with Taiwan a focused session on ensuring resilient supply chains for the electric vehicle industry.
Similarly, in renewable energy and energy storage the United States and Taiwan have an opportunity to Build Back Better Together. As the U.S. and Taiwan work together to meet our commitments to mitigate climate change, there is strong potential for sharing expertise in areas such as offshore wind and battery storage systems. Through cooperating in these areas, the United States and Taiwan will achieve more together than we could alone.
The United States and Taiwan also can complement one another to build reliable and secure 5G networks. Taiwan hardware providers are well placed to cooperate with U.S. networking firms and cloud service companies to provide 5G solutions in the United States, Taiwan, and third-country markets. The United States will continue to coordinate with Taiwan on this important issue.
And finally, when talking about 5G, we must also consider cybersecurity. Data and its secure processing is at the heart of modern economies. Organizations must now manage and protect data on a scale that the human mind struggles to imagine.
The decisions we make today about how we build out 5G infrastructure will have reverberations that will last through generations of wireless technology, making it all the more important to get it correct.
Cybersecurity is a shared challenge that requires a global, whole of society approach. This means that AmCham member companies and all companies play just as important a role as government policymakers.
As President Biden said, we must work together to “modernize our defense and secure the technology on which our enduring prosperity and security rely.” The stakes could not be higher, it will require U.S. and Taiwan firms standing together against capable and sophisticated foes, and that we evolve at the speed of technology and faster than those who look to exploit it. I am confident that when we collaborate, we will be stronger for it.
In closing, I would once again like to applaud AmCham Taiwan for organizing today’s Virtual Annual General Meeting. Just as the United States and Taiwan stand stronger together, AmCham Taiwan and AIT also stand stronger together. Cheers to you all, and I hope to see many of you in-person as soon as possible.