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Fri, Dec 20, 2002 - Page 22 News List

ECCT encourages Taiwan on path of economic reform

ECCT

ECCT CEO Guy Wittich said, the year 2002 has been a challenging one not only for Taiwan, but also for ECCT member companies doing business here. Membership was up with 50 new companies joining the ECCT. There has also been an increase in the number of activities, 50 percent more committee meetings this year. ECCT has 21 industry and support committees covering a wide range of issues including in automotive, insurance, travel and tourism, retail, food and beverage sectors, IPR, human resources, government procurement, support to members in getting issues addressed, etc...

One of the major issues that the ECCT undertakes is a "WTO Monitoring Project." It sees to it that Taiwan complies with WTO commitments and create an open, fair and competitive business environment. These include the lifting the ban on the import of goods from China.

ECCT urges the Taiwan government to comply with its WTO obligations and allow local and foreign manufacturers to import goods and raw materials without restrictions from the mainland. Imports of over 2,800 products remain prohibited, which adversely affects the business development of a number of ECCT member companies, said Wittich.

Wittich remarked, "ECCT's major goal is to help members defend their business interests." 50 product categories from China of great interest to ECCT members such as electronics, car parts have been forwarded to the Taiwan government and it hopes at least 14 of these items will be lifted before the end of the year.

Another area is simplifying application and import procedures. Foreign businesses are hampered in their operations due to complex application procedures in a wide range of matters, and often have to deal with multiple levels of government with conflicting application requirements. Clarity, transparency, consistency and impartiality are needed in the areas of product certification, manufacturing validation, customs clearance, and work permits.

The current regulatory environment in the product certification process, for example, makes market entry for new foreign products a long and cumbersome process, and unfairly puts foreign companies at a competitive disadvantage.

ECCT also hopes that Taiwan will open up the market for foreign contractors in public procurement projects. Many major European engineering, construction, and consulting firms have been excluded for many years from participating in Taiwan's infrastructure projects and have therefore eagerly awaited Taiwan's entry into the WTO.

Taiwan is not yet a formal signatory to the Government Procurement Agreement under WTO, and the ECCT and its member companies argue strongly that Taiwan's infrastructure projects have been subject to higher prices and lower quality due to the exclusion of foreign firms. Continued exclusion will reflect poorly on Taiwan's commitments to WTO principles and compliance, whilst denying Taiwan the chance to choose from the best for its infrastructure projects. ECCT urges the government to lift these restrictions on foreign firms and to put serious effort into signing the GPA as soon as possible.

Further restructuring the financial services industry. ECCT acknowledges the government's significant and potentially far-reaching accomplishments in the past 12 months, its enactment of legislation and implementation of regulatory reforms that are visibly changing the structural framework of Taiwan's banking and broader financial industries. Beyond the bold reforms so far made, there are other tough decisions that need to be made in order to ensure a healthy and fully functional financial industry in Taiwan.

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