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Press Release

AIT, AmCham and Taiwan: Cooperation on the Road to Success Remarks by Douglas Paal Director, American Institute in Taiwan to the 2004 AmCham Hsieh Nien Fan February 26, 2004

PR0411E | Date: 2004-02-26

It is once again my great honor to join you here this evening. I extend my thanks to the American Chamber of Commerce for the opportunity to address this year's Hsieh Nien Fan.

I appreciate President Chen's kind words and his willingness to take time during this busy season to attend tonight's event. The people of the U.S. and Taiwan share deep common interests and ties. Our friendship remains strong and we look forward to continuing to build on our enduring relationship in the years to come.

Although this is Hsieh Nien Fan, and we are here to thank all of those in the Taiwan government for their cooperation with the foreign business community, we should not forget those at the American Chamber of Commerce who have made tonight possible. I'd like to give kudos to Richard Vuylsteke and his staff, who so ably support the mission of the AmCham. Thank you Richard, and your staff, for all that you do.

We meet tonight with a sense of cautious optimism. A number of positive global economic factors are coming together to bolster this sense. The political parties, the economists in Taiwan's universities and think tanks, and the leaders of Taiwan's business community have recognized the need to embrace the forces of globalization. The recovery of the U.S. economy is helping to drive up demand for Taiwan's exports, as is the Mainland's rapid growth. Foreign capital is flooding into Asian stock exchanges, pushing the TaiEx higher and property prices appear to be recovering - and that has helped the banking sector reduce non-performing loans. Although forces beyond Taiwan's control shape many of these positive economic trends, there is a general sense in the business community that economic prospects look better for the coming year.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei is one of the most active and effective AmChams in all of Asia. The recommendations in your annual White Paper and your Washington Door-Knock make the economic dialogue between the U.S. and Taiwan smoother, more focused, and more productive.

We at AIT have cooperated closely with members of AmCham as we work with the Taiwan government to meet the economic challenges of a rapidly changing Asia. 2002 saw the culmination of a long process to bring one of the world's most important trading economies, Taiwan, into the global community of the WTO. Taiwan has achieved considerable success in the difficult process of living up to its WTO accession commitments, but there is still much work to be done. It is true that we have, at times, encountered difficulties. But it is a testimony to our close and enduring friendship with Taiwan that AIT, AmCham and Taiwan have been able to work effectively together to try to overcome these obstacles. I am confident that we will continue to find success, even in those ventures that may, at times, seem impossible.

Speaking of overcoming obstacles, this wouldn't be AmCham if I didn't mention Intellectual Property Rights. Intellectual property protection has been one of the key points of the U.S.-Taiwan bilateral trade relationship over the past several years and it continues to be one of our top priorities. We have said many times, in many different forums, that IP protection is crucial to the continued development of Taiwan's economy. Whether we are talking about CDs and DVDs, pharmaceutical products, or other consumer goods, intellectual property needs to be protected.

Taiwan has made some good progress in the past year - passing amendments to the copyright law and cracking down on producers of pirated optical disks. AIT has been working closely with the AmCham intellectual property committee and the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office to find ways to meet the ever-changing challenge of IP protection. Despite what some may think, this is not an impossible goal. While the situation in Taiwan is far from where it should be, we recognize there have been some real improvements from where it was. We look forward to continued and sustained enforcement and efforts by the Taiwan government to improve their ability to protect intellectual property over the next year.

Of course, IPR is not the only challenge Taiwan faces. AmCham's framework for reform, set out in the annual White Paper, is a useful guide. President Chen has said that he reads the White Paper every year. I am pleased to note that many of the issues that AmCham designated as a priority last year have seen some progress. With your cooperation, I am confident that Taiwan will continue to find ways to resolve the long-standing issues that remain. It is important that we work together to promote economic reforms and sound business practices - not because American companies would like to see them, not even because they are WTO commitments - but because they will ultimately benefit Taiwan by creating the conditions for the kind of economic growth and investment that creates jobs and improves the lives of ordinary people.

Our successes over the past year are due to the people in this room and we appreciate your willingness to go the extra mile as we seek to create in Taiwan an example for others to follow. I would like to join my friends in the AmCham in offering my thanks to our partners in authority in Taiwan. We look forward to a future of continued cooperation.

Health, happiness and good fortune to all. Thank you.