On Deepening US-Taiwan Economic Ties
I had the opportunity to attend a talk by US Diplomat Kurt Tong and the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan. Some key takeaways and personal commentary:
On The Importance of Economic Relations
- Long-term peace and stability is about economic investment, particularly long-term investment vs transactional trade or military priorities. The economy should be intrinsic to US-Taiwan relations.
- Increasing the size of Taiwan’s economy and importance in both the governmental and private sectors in the region and to the US should be a core priority.
- How to build a vested sense is investment, not trade. Trade is too transactional. Investment means: “I’m in on your society, in with you to succeed, and take a vested view and position.”
- The US doesn’t have a sense of the depth and richness of Taiwan’s economy, how we can collaborate, and what we have to offer to each.
- It’s notable that Taiwan receives lots of Congressional visits but a lack of visits from US CEOs and major investors. Ironically, State Governors do visit looking for Taiwanese investment and job creation in their home states.
- International news coverage of Taiwan is skewed toward a potential China conflict. The PLA may have the capability, but the requisite will and intention are very much up in the air. The quote I wrote down was: “The PRC has many faces.”
- A personal opinion, not the speakers’, is that the air incursions by the PRC are more propaganda value for scaring less informed Americans and Westerners than the Taiwanese populace who have become inured to such provocative troublemaking after seventy years of threats and regional players who understand China more than the those in the Western world.
- The other quote I did write down from the talk was, “The perceived risk for investment is not grounded in facts or analysis.”
On US Responsibility
- US Headquarters need education on Taiwan on realistic threat analysis and potential for bilateral investments, greenfield, M & A, start-up, etc.
- Understanding Taiwan is an inclusive and progressive society that shares ideals on areas like environmental progress, acceptance of LGBT people, and gender equality.
- The US media needs to take responsibility for one-dimensional news coverage about Taiwan that is skewed toward the lens of China. This, for example, misses the rigorous societal debate on energy policy in the current election, which is “honestly the way a healthy democratic electorate should behave.”
- US Congressional partisan instability is a threat to international stability and US image and strength abroad.
On TW Responsibility
- Taiwan needs better regulatory transparency on approval processes and national security reviews for foreign companies that want to operate in Taiwan. Regulatory transparency and digital governance are important for global trade relationships.
- Taiwan’s financial sector continues to lose out on opportunities in the region, even as capital flight, particularly of family money, leaves China and Hong Kong with the flight of institutional money that may well quicken.
- There’s a rightful emphasis on semiconductors, cloud, and green energy, but it’s at the expense of other potential areas of growth and trade, such as the creative industries.
- Taiwanese brands are now mature enough to operate in the United States, even those beyond manufacturing, but this requires salesmanship on part of Taiwanese companies.
- As the US attempts to friendshore: What does the US really mean by friendshoring? The US needs to create cooperative friendships that work in both directions.