Fri, Nov 15, 2002 - Page 10 News List

Officials and AmCham hold brainstorming session

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Economic planning officials and the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) held the first of two brainstorming sessions yesterday on ways to bolster direct foreign investment.

The meeting was arranged to facilitate better communication between the foreign business group and the government and address priority issues raised by AmCham in its 2002 White Paper, released in May.

Attending the meet were Council for Economic Planning and Development chairpersons Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) and Hsieh Fa-ta (謝發達), 10 members of AmCham and more than 20 government officials from both economic and finance ministries.

Vice Premier Lin Hsin-yi (林信義), who also heads the council, was originally scheduled to attend the meeting with AmCham officials, but cancelled at the last minute because of scheduling difficulties.

In spite of Lin's absence, AmCham expressed satisfaction over Ho's chairing of the meeting and plan to hold regular talks.

"We will meet again next Thursday to finalize a review of the White Paper, and then meet periodically to discuss in detail specific issues," Ho told the Taipei Times. "The meeting was quite constructive. AmCham had some good suggestions on how to improve national competitiveness."

The AmCham team, led by executive director Richard Vuylsteke, also said the talks were useful.

"We all walked out of the meeting thinking some progress has been made," Vuylsteke said.

AmCham members used the opportunity yesterday to voice concerns over Taiwan's deteriorating investment environment, urging the government to unscramble the nation's tax codes and create a more internationalized regulatory system that eliminates trade barriers to multinationals.

"The problem is taxation and regulatory controls on business operations," said Vuylsteke.

He said AmCham aimed to help internationalize the nation's regulations so that multinational corporations can operate here more easily.

"If those regulations aren't changed, corporations will start looking some place else," he said.

Ho promised to "work as a team" to understand other nations' regulatory systems.

Another issue raised at yesterday's meeting was government procurement and construction projects. Vuylsteke stressed the importance of making the bidding process fair in order to attract international bidders with quality construction standards, low prices and fewer business risks.

"The contract, terms and conditions in Taiwan are not competitive," Vuylsteke said.

"In fact, they make it impossible for a lot of companies to even bid on projects here."

To make the nation a better place for business, Vuylsteke said, Taiwan needs to acknowledge the fact that "governments [in Asia] are in competition with each other for foreign direct investment."

"There's only so much money out there," he said. "Countries that offer the best regulatory and enforcement environment are going to get more investment."

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