Remarks by AIT Director Oudkirk for Hsieh Nien Fan
April 19, 2023
Madame President, Laura, Vincent, distinguished guests and friends, good evening.
It is my pleasure to be here with you tonight for the second year in a row to discuss AIT’s priorities at the beginning of the third year of the Biden-Harris Administration. Since we took this stage last year, Taiwan’s borders have opened, and we’ve seen a rush of pent-up demand for engagement. This is great news for the U.S.-Taiwan relationship, a positive sign for our growing and mutually beneficial trade and investment ties, and a trend that I hope to see continue in 2023 and beyond.
People–to–people exchanges are back in a big way. The World Movement for Democracy held its 11th Global Forum in Taiwan for the first time last October, the Oslo Freedom Forum was held in November, the President of Paraguay participated alongside President Tsai in the “Power Women!” conference in February, and bipartisan Congressional delegations have shown tremendous interest in Taiwan, as you can see by the numbers and seniority of the members comprising these delegations.
On the trade and investment front, in June of last year I had the honor to lead the largest delegation in history to the SelectUSA Summit. In October Taiwan held its first ever business expo in the United States led by Minister of Economic Affairs Wang, who at the time also marked the first anniversary of Secretary-to-Minister level engagement with the Department of Commerce.
I said it last year and I’ll say it again: U.S. support for Taiwan is rock-solid, principled, and bipartisan. It is entirely in line with America’s one China policy guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances. We will continue to deepen engagement and connections with Taiwan consistent with U.S. interests and the interests of the people of Taiwan. We firmly believe that U.S. support for Taiwan contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and helps to create a more stable, safe, and secure region.
Tonight, I would like to concentrate on three special areas of focus that are deeply relevant to all of you as you work at this critical juncture to deepen the trade and investment relationship between the United States and Taiwan.
The first is Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access, or DEIA.
As Director of AIT, paramount among my strategic priorities is strengthening the trade and investment and people–to–people ties between the United States and Taiwan.
Investing in women and historically marginalized communities – as valued employees, entrepreneurs, innovators, and community leaders – is essential to our competitiveness, resiliency, and adaptability, not just in the corporate world, but also in our communities and beyond.
Principles of inclusion apply to every organization, especially in Taiwan, which is the most progressive society in Asia.
This evening, I am proud to share the stage with Taiwan’s first female President and the first female Chair of AIT! (Vincent — we have you outnumbered!)
Taiwan has the highest rate of female participation in elected office in Asia. It was the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, a milestone reached in 2019 and enhanced earlier this year when Taiwan announced it would recognize these marriages when they involved a non-Taiwan partner. These moves help to attract talent to Taiwan, which benefits innovative global firms like the ones gathered here tonight.
Mentorship continues to be one of the most effective means for women and disadvantaged groups to succeed in the workforce. In 2021, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo launched the Select Global Women in Tech Mentorship Network. The Network links female tech entrepreneurs from around the world with American business leaders, who serve as mentors as these entrepreneurs work to grow their businesses in the U.S. market. I’m pleased to say that we’ve had 18 women entrepreneurs from Taiwan participate since the program began two years ago, and another 14 will join this year.
In addition, in 2021 AIT partnered with the Ministry of Economic Affairs to launch the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, or AWE, program, which is designed to advance women’s economic empowerment by providing entrepreneurs the skills, resources, and networks needed to start and scale successful businesses.
Building on AWE’s success, AIT also partnered with the Council for Indigenous People to create Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs, a Mandarin-language training and mentorship program targeting female micro-entrepreneurs in the indigenous community, many of whom live in Taiwan’s rural areas where few resources exist to help them develop their businesses.
Finally, our colleagues at AIT Kaohsiung are wrapping up a year-long “TechCamp” program designed to help indigenous entrepreneurs in southern Taiwan utilize tech tools to elevate and expand their small businesses.
Going forward, AIT is interested in working with the companies represented here tonight individually or collectively through AmCham to exchange lessons learned on translating the U.S. approach on EEO and DEIA to the Taiwan cultural context. We have a lot to learn from you and look forward to meaningful discussions that make a positive impact on workforce empowerment and talent retention.
Similarly, we are proud to partner with Taiwan in laying the foundation for change to improve accessibility and creating a climate to ensure all voices, especially female ones, are valued, validated, and are empowered to contribute all their talents fully. I may be the first female Director of AIT, but like Vice President Kamala Harris said about her own position, “I will not be the last.”
The second area I would like to highlight tonight is the importance of trade and investment to create more secure and reliable supply chains that build sustainable economies in both Taiwan and the United States.
Laura gave you a great overview of the alphabet soup of mechanisms the USG is using to achieve these goals: TTIC; the EPPD; and the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade, or as we fondly call it 21CI.
The five industry sectors that are the focus of TTIC, each in their own way capture and advance our shared economic and security interests. A healthy semiconductor ecosystem in BOTH Taiwan and the U.S. is key to a thriving global economy. Last year, I had the honor to attend both the groundbreaking ceremony for Global Wafers’ $5 billion silicon wafer manufacturing facility in Sherman, Texas, and the monumental tool-in ceremony and expansion announcement for TSMC outside Phoenix, AZ. These investments help to broaden and diversify global supply chains, increase opportunities for business growth and job creation, and enable Taiwan semiconductor companies to better serve their U.S. clients, but they do not replace any of the exceptional work that is happening right here in Taiwan.
The electric vehicle global revolution presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Taiwanese companies to grow market share in the United States, and globally, as a natural evolution of their world-renowned expertise in electronics manufacturing.
In the telecom sector, Taiwanese hardware suppliers and U.S. service providers are working together to build 5G and 6G Open RAN and satellite communication networks. Through these new Open RAN partnerships, we can deliver secure, transparent, AND affordable telecom as a reliable alternative to existing options. Critically, these partnerships also aim to secure reliable and resilient satellite communications on this island, to protect Taiwan against connectivity vulnerabilities.
Further to bolstering Taiwan’s resilience, two key goals of TTIC are to shore up cybersecurity protections across the economy and support Taiwan’s energy sector. In September of this year, AIT will host a Department of Commerce executive-led cybersecurity trade mission of U.S. cybersecurity solutions providers, and NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will train both Taiwan officials and industry representatives on NIST’s recently launched Cybersecurity Framework 2.0.
On the energy front, companies and policy makers from both Taiwan and the United States are identifying technology, policy, and process solutions for building Taiwan’s energy resilience by strengthening the grid, advancing renewable energy & storage, gasifying Taiwan’s coal fired power plants, and laying a foundation for a net–zero future through carbon capture, storage, and utilization.
Finally, I want to reiterate: AIT strongly supports U.S. investments in Taiwan and continued expansion of U.S. business interests on the island.
While we are delighted at the giant, new investments by Taiwan companies in the United States, I want to underscore the importance of recognizing that investment flows in both directions.
Expansions this year from Micron, Qualcomm, Entegris, ASML, and other global companies in Taiwan speak volumes about the indispensable role U.S. and other foreign companies play in Taiwan’s semiconductor ecosystem. Firms from the United States and Taiwan play mutually complementary roles in ensuring that this vital sector continues to grow and benefit both of our peoples and economies.
From the first technology transfers from RCA to ITRI in the late 1970s, to the rich and continuing history of students studying in the United States and returning to Taiwan to start world-class enterprises, we can confidently say that the development of the U.S. and Taiwan semiconductor industries ecosystems is a veritable 良性循環 (Liángxìng xúnhuán), or virtuous cycle.
The United States and Taiwan are the globe’s most natural partners in the semiconductor supply chain: U.S. firms make up 68 percent of the fabless market, while Taiwan is home to more than half of the global foundry business.
Just last month, two AmCham Taiwan equipment and electronic design automation companies — Merck Group and Qualcomm Technologies Inc. — announced plans for expanded investment in leading-edge research and development in Taiwan. In addition to semiconductors, other U.S. technology companies also have high-value R&D investments in Taiwan, ranging from hardware prototyping to innovative uses of artificial intelligence.
Earlier this year, two other U.S. companies – LAM Research and Cadence – announced their plans for expanded investment in leading edge research and development. Outside semiconductors, other companies such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft also have high value R&D investments in Taiwan, and they are growing.
Companies in the United States and Taiwan share strong links through a long history of collaboration, deep and historic ties, and robust commercial connections that underpin our mutually beneficial economic relationship. As ties between the U.S. and Taiwan continue to deepen and broaden, I am confident that these commercial links will grow as well.
As the COVID-related restrictions on travel and face-to-face engagement finally recede into the past, we can’t help but seeing that the world and the Indo-Pacific region are more interconnected than ever. To advance our global and regional goals, we will need bold leadership, democratic allies, and robust international cooperation, including close cooperation with our partners in the private sector, which means you!
AIT is committed to working with our partners in Taiwan — and AmCham Taiwan is one of the most important of those partners — as we confront these shared challenges and make progress on our collective goals.
It is an honor to join you again tonight, and I look forward to working with you to further strengthen our partnership throughout the year ahead! Thank you.