As we approach the end of 2014 and look forward to even greater success in 2015, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on several recent major accomplishments for Taiwan, and emphasize the United States’ support and appreciation for the effort involved in each of these achievements.
At AIT, we spoke often in 2014 about the fact that this year marked the 35th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, which continues to underpin the relationship between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan. Relations between the United States and Taiwan are stronger than they’ve ever been. Indicative of the strength of these relations was the April visit of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, who came to Taiwan to celebrate 20 years of cooperation on environmental issues. My colleagues and I at the American Institute in Taiwan remain grateful that we are able to take part in nurturing and continuing to develop this critical relationship at such an important juncture in history.
We at AIT frequently commend the vibrant democracy that we see here in Taiwan, highlighting not only its importance to the people of Taiwan, but also its demonstrative effect for others in the region and the world. The November 29 local elections were another manifestation of the health and depth of that democracy. Taiwan’s “thriving democracy,” as President Obama said in his speech in Brisbane in mid-November, was on full display, with candidates, voters, and officials participating in another free, fair, and transparent election process. We commend all of the participants who worked together once more to ensure the growth and continuity of Taiwan’s democracy.
The world community continues to grapple with the chaos wrought by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. Recognizing that many problems do not respect borders in this increasingly interconnected world, Taiwan has stepped up to offer more than $7 million of assistance to the coalition effort to respond to this scourge. Taiwan’s initiatives and donations aimed at assisting Iraqi and Syrian refugees displaced by this conflict are truly impressive, and include more than 3,000 tons of rice, 350 prefabricated shelters in northern Iraq, a mobile hospital in southeastern Turkey, and psychological counseling for young refugees in Jordan, among many other efforts.
The ongoing Ebola epidemic likewise threatens the welfare of people all over the world. Illustrating its desire to be a strong contributor to the effort to stem this epidemic, Taiwan has donated 100,000 sets of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which have made their way to West Africa and will be employed in protecting the brave medical workers who are treating victims of Ebola. Taiwan followed that effort with a generous donation of $1 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation in the United States. Those funds will be used for the most urgent needs in the battle against Ebola. We commend Taiwan for stepping up to help address this international problem, even as the epicenter of that concern is far from Taiwan’s shores.
Taiwan’s trade with the United States is on the rise, aided by our companies’ strong linkages in global high-technology manufacturing and sales, and Taiwan is on track to rank as the United States’ tenth-largest trading partner for the year. Taiwan’s regulatory authorities have also taken important steps over the past several months to create a friendlier environment for foreign investment, in particular welcoming the return of U.S. private equity investment to play a constructive role in Taiwan’s ongoing economic transformation. Our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks continue to play an invaluable role in facilitating frank and open discussion of the remaining market access challenges in our economic relationship, and we anticipate further progress in 2015.
We look forward to continuing to deepen and strengthen the relationship between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan in 2015. We congratulate Taiwan on the many successes that we noted in 2014, and wish our Taiwan friends a very happy holiday season.