The European Chamber of Commerce Taipei (ECCT) yesterday urged the government to balance the interests of all stakeholders to ensure the nation’s economic growth and prosperity, saying policymakers sometimes pander to whichever groups make the most noise.
The trade group made the comments during the release of its annual position paper amid falling EU-Taiwan trade, which is at a variance with the global trend.
“Democracy and freedom of speech are to be cherished as hallmarks of an open and free society,” ECCT chairman Giuseppe Izzo told a media briefing.
However, there are instances when the government overly panders to whichever group happens to make the most noise, but it is essential to get the balance right in the regulatory system to move the nation forward, he said.
The decline in EU-Taiwan trade and investment should be a concern for the government and businesses, Izzo said.
Bilateral trade in goods contracted 5.2 percent last year and exports to the EU fell 8.3 percent in the first six months of this year, he said.
The EU’s exports to the rest of the world rose by 8.2 percent, while imports from the rest of the world increased by 4 percent last year, Izzo said, adding that the EU’s trade with South Korea grew by 10.2 percent and trade with Hong Kong rose 5.7 percent.
As a result of the decline in trade, Taiwan slipped from being the EU’s 19th-largest trading partner in 2011 to 23rd place last year, and it is set to retreat further based on current trends, Izzo said.
Europe remains the largest source of direct foreign investment with accumulated investment of US$32.3 billion, ahead of the US, Japan and China, the position paper said.
However, the EU’s investment has nosedived to US$350 million in the first six months, a slump of 49 percent from the same period the previous year, the paper said.
“This slowdown is a clear indication that Taiwan needs to do more to attract investment,” Izzo said.
To get the balance right, the paper calls on the government to adopt international standards, pursue a trade deal with the EU and work much harder to put the nation on a path to sustainable economic growth.
Proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection Act (消費者保護法), for instance, are too broad and vague, as it would be impractical to have the same refund clauses for perishable food as for electronic goods, the paper said.
The ECCT recognizes the need to safeguard workers and employees from danger, but it is impractical for an employer to provide the same level of protection to employees working from home or in multiple locations not directly controlled by that employer, the paper said.