AmCham urges Taiwan to address energy, talent, border control issues

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taiwan on Wednesday called on the Taiwan government to step up efforts to address issues surrounding energy security, labor shortages, and the reopening of the country's borders.

In its latest white paper launched Wednesday, the business group, which represents 535 American and international companies with operations in Taiwan, urged the Taiwanese authorities to urgently address some of the issues it feared would threaten the country's international competitiveness.

One of the pressing issues is energy supply in Taiwan, AmCham Vice Chairperson Andrea Wu (????) said at the paper's launch event in Taipei Wednesday.

AmCham's members are increasingly worried about the Taiwan government's ability to ensure energy security and grid resilience while pushing for a transition to renewables, especially in light of the severe power outages seen in May 2021 as well as this March, Wu noted.

Wu called for more action by the government to accelerate renewables projects and update grid infrastructure in Taiwan, adding that the authorities should also roll out clearer incentives to draw the private sector into its efforts.

At the same time, Taiwan's government ought to effectively address a deficit of highly skilled workers, as the problem has adversely impacted business operations in the country, Wu said.

While Taiwan benefits from a strong pool of well-educated, highly motivated, and hard-working talent, the country continues to suffer from shortages in certain key industries, such as the semiconductor and other technology-related companies, Wu said, adding that vigorous efforts to attract foreign talent and boost the English skills of local Taiwanese talent were urgently needed.

In addition, the AmCham urged Taiwan's government to speed up efforts to reopen the country's borders, as 80 percent of Taiwan's residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with two doses.

Wu said while it was encouraging that Taiwan had shortened the mandatory quarantine period for overseas arrivals, people who tested positive for COVID-19 as well as their close contacts, such steps were not enough.

Such border control measures have continued to curb business travel between Taiwan and other countries and hinder foreign inbound investment, Wu said, adding that it was critical for the country to gradually move toward the full reopening of its borders.

Asked about whether AmCham's members had raised concern over Taiwan's security amid increasing military and political pressure from China, AmCham President Andrew Wylegala did not respond to the question directly, saying only that members would have their own assessments and business decisions based on the global and regional situations.

"We [the AmCham] naturally are hoping for the continuity of peace and stability in this region, around the Taiwan Strait, that is certainly conducive to our members' interests," Wylegala added.

Meanwhile, the AmCham also made suggestions to Washington in its white paper, urging the U.S. government to begin negotiations with its Taiwanese counterpart on a bilateral trade agreement.

AmCham also called on the U.S. to include Taiwan in its ongoing discussions with Japan and South Korea about promoting the resilience of the semiconductor industry.

The AmCham's request is to ensure that relevant industries located in Taiwan would "have a seat on the table as we look at these complicated issues looking forward," Wylegala noted, adding it would be "a mistake" not to include Taiwan as it had played a predominant role in this sector.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel