Wed, May 28, 2008 - Page 12 News List

AmCham urges speedy deregulation

GET ON WITH IT The chamber spoke in favor of easing cross-strait trade barriers and the government's fuel and electricity price hikes to accurately reflect the cost of oil

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The new government under President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) leadership should "get down to business," expediting the nation's deregulation to help spur investment, the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) said yesterday.

In its 2008 Taiwan White Paper released yesterday, AmCham reiterated its long-held position in favor of easing cross-strait trade barriers; in particular, to-be-expanded direct charter flights across the Strait, which it said would increase convenience and save time.

If the links are in place, “multinationals — and Taiwanese — companies will choose to locate more key personnel and business units in Taiwan for reasons of quality of life, intellectual property right (IPR) protection and other rule of law issues,” the chamber’s press statement said.

For example, “companies in the financial sector” would be highly interested in setting up shops or relocating their headquarters to Taiwan, AmCham chairwoman Tung Tai-chin (童台琴) said on the sidelines of its media briefing yesterday.

Tung is the country head of Fidelity International Ltd (FIL, 富達國際) Taiwan with nearly 25 years’ experience in the financial service sector.

The chamber’s 84-page white paper detailed 17 position papers by its industry committees, which itemized 94 specific recommendations for the government to improve the local business environment including 46 “suggested action items.”

The chamber yesterday urged Ma’s administration to immediately ease restrictions that are imposed by Taiwan unilaterally, such as the 40 percent capital cap on China-bound investments, the 0.4 percent ceiling on Chinese holdings in either offshore or onshore funds as well as restrictions on certain Chinese imports like potato chips.

Although the chamber expressed concerns over the nation’s future power supply, it also threw its support behind the government’s recently announced hike of fuel and electricity prices to reflect international crude oil costs and to cut down the nation’s oil consumption.

“Any distortion of the market is harmful to the competitiveness of a society,” said Gibson Engineers (吉興工程) president Chen Li-cheng (陳立誠), who co-chairs the chamber’s infrastructure committee, at yesterday’s media briefing.

Politically, the chamber also cautioned the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government to guard against a return to “black gold” and other forms of corruption amid a weakening opposition force and media that may be less of a watchdog than before.

During its annual “Doorknock” trip to Washington next week, the chamber also plans to propose its four suggestions to the US government, Tung said.

The chamber will urge the US government to remove Taiwan from its Special 301 Watch List and assist Taiwan in mitigating the consequences of international isolation, for example, by helping Taiwan enter the World Health Assembly as an observer, its press statement said.

The chamber will also ask the US government to pursue trade policies that promote economic liberalization between Taiwan and the US, such as restoring the president’s “fast-track” authority and exploring the negotiation of bilateral agreements with Taiwan.

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