2010 Investment Climate Statement - Taiwan
Taiwan welcomes foreign direct investment. The island’s science-based industrial parks, export processing zones, and free trade zones offer streamlined procedures. Taiwan has made significant improvement in protecting intellectual property.
While most foreign ownership limits have been removed, the foreign ownership limit on wireless and wireline telecommunications firms is 60%, including a direct foreign investment limit of 49%. For state-owned Chunghwa Telecom Co., which controls 97% of the fixed line telecom market, the limit on direct and indirect foreign investment is 55%, including a direct foreign investment limit of 49%. There is a 20% limit on foreign direct investment on cable television broadcast services, but foreign ownership of up to 60% is allowed through indirect investment via a Taiwan entity. Foreign investors now control three of the five largest cable TV networks in Taiwan. In addition, there is a foreign ownership limit of 49.99% for satellite television broadcasting services and piped distribution of natural gas, and 49% for high-speed railways. In July 2007, the foreign ownership cap on ground-handling firms, air-catering companies, aviation transportation businesses (airlines), and general aviation business (commercial helicopters and business jet planes) was raised from one third to less than 50%, with a separate limit of 25% for any single foreign investor. For Taiwan-flagged merchant ships, foreign investment is limited to 50% for Taiwan shipping companies operating international routes.
Taiwan has been gradually liberalizing regulations governing investments from Mainland China, including allowing Chinese direct investment in 64 sectors in manufacturing, 117 in services, and 11 in public construction. Under the “Regulations Governing Permission for People from the Mainland Area to Invest in Taiwan,” Mainland entities and foreign companies in which Mainland entities have over 30% shares must first obtain permission from the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) before establishing a presence in Taiwan or to hold shares in a Taiwan company. The Taiwan authorities may also prohibit or restrict investment from Mainland Chinese enterprises that have military shareholders or have a military purpose, that would be of a monopolistic nature, that would influence national security, or that would "do harm to domestic economic development."
The MOEA's Investment Commission (IC) screens applications for investment, acquisitions, and mergers. For projects that are not on the negative list, 95% will generally obtain approval within 3 working days. Specifically, approval of projects with an investment value less than NT$500 million (US$15.4 million at an exchange rate of NT$32.5 per US$) is generally granted within two working days at the IC division chief level. For investments between NT$500 million (US$15.4 million) and NT$1 billion (US$46.2 million) that are not on the negative list, approval authority rests with the IC Executive Secretary and normally is also granted within three working days. Approval of investments above NT$1 billion or on the negative list requires three weeks, as these investments must be referred to the relevant supervisory ministries and require approval of the IC Chairman or IC Executive Secretary. Investments involving mergers and acquisitions require screening at the monthly meeting of an inter-ministerial commission.
Third Party Indicators:
|TI Corruption Index||2009||37 (out of 180)|
|Heritage Economic Freedom||2010||27 (out of 183)|
|World Bank Doing Business||2010||46 (out of 183)|
There are relatively few restrictions on converting or transferring direct investment funds. Foreign investors with approved investments can readily obtain foreign exchange from a large number of designated banks. The remittance of capital invested in Taiwan must be reported in advance to the IC, but IC approval is not required. Declared earnings, capital gains, dividends, royalties, management fees, and other returns on investments can be repatriated at any time. For large transactions requiring the exchange of NT dollars into foreign currency which could potentially disrupt Taiwan's foreign exchange market, the Central Bank may require the transaction to be scheduled over several days. There is no written guideline on the size of such transactions, but amounts in excess of US$100 million may be affected. Capital movements arising from trade in merchandise and services, as well as from debt servicing, are not restricted. No prior approval is required for movement of foreign currency funds not requiring exchange between NT dollars and the foreign currency. No prior approval is required if the cumulative amount of inward or outward remittances does not exceed the annual limit of US$5 million for an individual or US$50 million for a corporate entity.
Total outbound investment may not exceed 40% of the investing company's net worth or paid-in capital (whichever is less), unless it is a professional investment company, the company charter waived the 40% limit, or such investment is approved by shareholders. A local company is not required to obtain prior approval for overseas investments, except to Mainland China. However, if the amount of investment exceeds USD $50 million, the company has to file an application to MOEA's Investment Commission.
Taiwan has significantly relaxed restrictions on direct investment in China. Taiwan entities are no longer required to go through a third jurisdiction to make their investments on the Mainland. In August 2008, authorities raised the annual ceiling on an individual's investment in China from US$2.5 million to US$5 million. The ceiling on small and medium enterprise investment in China is either US$2.5 million or 60% of the investing firm's net worth, whichever is higher. For large enterprises, total investment in China is capped at 60% of net worth. This cap, however, does not apply to foreign subsidiaries in Taiwan. For investments below US$1 million, approval is not required, but investors must report the investment to the IC within six months. For investments between US$1 million and US$50 million, approval can be granted in two weeks. Taiwan authorities require an investor to submit a quarterly financial report if the cumulative investment in a project exceeds US$50 million.
Taiwan authorities have actively encouraged investment in Southeast Asia and India. Investments are also encouraged in a number of countries with which Taiwan has diplomatic relations, mainly in Central America. Incentives include loans and/or overseas investment insurance from Taiwan's Export-Import Bank.
Expropriation and Compensation
No foreign-invested firm has ever been nationalized or expropriated in Taiwan. No examples of "creeping expropriation" or official actions tantamount to expropriation have been reported. Under Taiwan law, no venture with 45% or more foreign investment can be nationalized, as long as the 45% capital contribution ratio remains unchanged for a period of 20 years after the commencement of the foreign business. Expropriation can be justified only for national defense needs, and "reasonable" compensation must be given.
Taiwan is not a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes or the New York Convention of 1958 on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitrage awards. Investment disputes with the Taiwan authorities are not common. Normally, Taiwan resolves disputes according to domestic laws and regulations.
Taiwan has comprehensive commercial laws, including the Company Law, Commercial Registration Law, Business Registration Law, and Commercial Accounting Law, as well as laws governing specific industries. Taiwan's Bankruptcy Law guarantees that all creditors have the right to share the assets of a bankrupt debtor on a proportional basis. Secured interests in property, both chattel and real, are recognized and enforced through a registration system.
Taiwan's court system is generally viewed as independent and free from overt interference by the other official branches. Judges are generally over-worked. As a result, simplified courts have been set up to deal with minor cases that can be resolved quickly. The judgments of foreign courts with jurisdictional authority are enforced in Taiwan by local courts on a reciprocal basis.
Performance Requirements and Incentives
All of Taiwan’s performance requirements were removed in January 2002 upon Taiwan's WTO accession. Taiwan does not require firms to transfer technology, locate in specified areas, or hire a minimum number of local employees as a prerequisite to investment.
Manufacturing firms located in export-processing zones and science-based industrial parks are required to export all of their production to obtain tariff-free treatment of production inputs. However, these firms may sell on the domestic market upon payment of relevant import duties.
As part of its 2001 WTO accession, Taiwan promised to phase out industrial offset requirements (IOR) for non-military public procurement upon signing the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). Taiwan acceded to the GPA in December 2008, although it started reducing the IOR coverage of non-military procurements as early as 2004. Currently, only railway and power generation projects are subject to IOR. For these two categories, a contract of US$10 million or more triggers an offset obligation of at least 33%. For military procurements, the threshold is US$5 million, and the minimum offset obligation is 40%. In some military cases, the offset ratio has reached 70% due to legislative pressure.
Since 1988, Taiwan has signed industrial offset contracts (IOCs) with 51 suppliers from 12 countries. The commitment value of these contracts totals US$8.6 billion, and realized contracts amount to US$5.5 billion. Fifty percent of the total realized value was directed to transfer of technologies, 18% to foreign direct investment in Taiwan, 19% to procurement from Taiwan, 5% to trade promotion, 4% to personnel training, and 3% to assessment certification. Taiwan has published industrial offset rules in both Chinese and English, and has made them accessible to the public online.
The United States remains concerned, however, that terms and conditions for model public procurement projects determined by the Taiwan authorities impose large indirect and unforeseeable liabilities on contractors and thereby prevent U.S. firms from bidding on projects.
Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
Private investors have the right to establish and own business enterprises, except in a limited number of industries involving national security and environmental protection. Private entities can freely acquire and dispose of interests in business enterprises. Private firms have the same access as state-owned companies to markets, credit, licenses, and supplies. Taiwan authorities have largely eliminated state-owned monopolies, except for power transmission and water supply.
Protection of Property Rights
As a result of Taiwan's continuing efforts to improve its IPR legal regime and enforcement, on January 16, 2009, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that Taiwan has been removed from the Special 301 Watch List. However, the United States continues to be concerned about a number of IPR issues in Taiwan, including the availability of counterfeit pharmaceuticals, infringement of copyrighted material on the Internet, illegal textbook copying, and the level of protection for the packaging, configuration, and outward appearance of products (trade dress). The U.S. is actively working with the Taiwan authorities to address these issues.
The Pharmaceutical Law, as amended in 2004 and 2007, stiffened penalties for production, distribution and sale of counterfeit medicines. A 2005 amendment to the Law authorized pharmaceutical data exclusivity for five years to prevent unfair commercial data use, the same exclusivity period as in the United States. In addition, on December 3, 2009, the Executive Yuan submitted an amendment to the Patent Law that would extend the protection period on patented medicine up to five years if the granting of the license to produce and sell the product in Taiwan is delayed. The Legislative Yuan will likely consider the proposed amendment in spring 2010. However, U.S. original-drug manufacturers complain that Taiwan authorities unfairly allow generic pharmaceutical companies to apply for licenses and for Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) reimbursement prices even before the original drugs' data-exclusivity period has expired.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs' Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) and other relevant agencies have adopted programs to crack down on Internet and physical piracy. To streamline and improve the quality of judicial procedures in IP cases, in July 2008, the Judicial Yuan inaugurated an Intellectual Property Court authorized to handle all new civil and administrative IP litigation, as well as appeals on criminal cases. To combat Internet-related IPR violations, Taiwan has strengthened cooperation with foreign enforcement agencies and passed an amendment to the Copyright Law in June 2007 that subjects illegal file sharing to a maximum jail term of two years. In April 2009, the Legislative Yuan (LY) further amended the Copyright Law to require Internet service providers (ISP) to undertake specific and effective notice-and-takedown actions against online infringers to avoid ISP liability for the infringing activities of users on their networks. In addition, the Ministry of Education (MOE) continues to implement and strengthen an IPR action plan that combats unauthorized textbook copying and illegal downloads on academic computer networks.
Transparency of the Regulatory SystemTaiwan has a set of comprehensive laws and regulations regarding taxes, labor, health and safety.
In addition to tax incentives, Taiwan’s science-based industrial parks and export processing zones have simple and transparent bureaucratic procedures for the investment application process. Outside of these areas, the Department of Investment Services (DOIS) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs functions as the coordinator between investors and all agencies involved in the investment process. The Investment Commission of the MOEA is charged with reviewing and approving inbound and outbound investments.
Taiwan has simplified work-permit procedures for foreign white-collar employees. In March 2004, the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) set up a single window to issue work permits for all white-collar workers. It takes 7 to 10 days for the CLA to issue work permits. The work permit may be extended indefinitely as long as the employer considers the employment necessary.
Taiwan has removed the job experience requirement for the employment of foreign management professionals by global operational headquarters and R&D centers, as well as for firms in designated industries. White-collar workers with a master’s degree or above are not subject to any job experience requirement. Those with lower education levels are required to have job experience. Foreign white- and blue-collar workers have the right to obtain permanent residence status after they have legally stayed in Taiwan for seven consecutive years, with a minimum time of residence of 180 days per year. The seven-year requirement is waived for high-tech personnel and those who have made "significant contributions" to Taiwan.
The entry-visa issuance procedures for foreign white-collar workers who work for foreign-invested companies are relatively simple. A foreign executive who enters Taiwan with a tourist visa is no longer required to leave the island before the tourist visa can be changed to an employment visa. Similarly, a foreign executive whose employment visa expires is not required to exit before renewing the visa.
Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
Taiwan's capital market is mature and active. According to the most recent available data, as of the end of 2008, 718 companies had listed in the stock market. The ratio of the market value of listed companies to GDP was 92.4%, which was close to those of the developed countries. The market value of the listed companies in Taiwan was at US$ 360 billion. The transaction volume of Taiwan's securities and stock exchange market reached US$ 804 billion, and the turnover rate of the transaction volume was 92.4%. A wide variety of credit instruments, all allocated on market terms, are available to both domestic- and foreign-invested firms. Legal accounting systems are largely transparent and consistent with international standards. The regulatory system is generally fair. Foreign portfolio investors are not subject to foreign ownership limits except in a limited number of industries. In recent years, Taiwan authorities have taken a number of steps to encourage a more efficient flow of financial resources and credit. The limit on NT dollar deposits that a branch of a foreign bank may take has been lifted. Non-residents are permitted to open NT dollar bank accounts, though they are subject to capital-flow controls which limit each remittance to US$100,000. There are no restrictions on residents opening bank accounts overseas. A freeze on new bank branches, designed to encourage consolidation in the banking industry, was removed in 2007, although both foreign and domestic banks still need case-by-case approval to open new branches. Restrictions on capital flows relating to portfolio investment have also been removed. The banking, insurance and securities industries have been liberalized and opened to foreign investment, except investments from Mainland China, which are subject to separate rules. Access to Taiwan's securities markets by foreign institutional investors has also been broadened.
Taiwan abolished a complicated regulatory system governing foreign portfolio investment in October 2003. Since then, any foreign institutional investor is allowed to enter Taiwan’s market. Subsequent registration has replaced the need for prior approval. There is no minimum asset requirement. On-shore foreign investors are still subject to annual capital flow limits of US$5 million for an individual foreign investor and US$50 million for an unregistered foreign company.
Taiwan has removed all legal limits on foreign ownership, except for investors from China, in nearly all companies listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TAIEX). Exceptions include public utilities, power distribution, natural gas, postal service, telecommunications, mass media firms, and air and sea transportation. There have been no reports of private or official efforts to restrict the participation of foreign-invested firms in industry standards-setting consortia or organizations.
Taiwan has a tightly regulated banking system, though since the mid-1980s, the financial sector as a whole has been steadily opening to private investment. The market share held by foreign banks was relatively small until five foreign banks and three foreign private equity funds completed their acquisitions of Taiwan banks in 2007 and 2008. The market share of all foreign banks in Taiwan (including the eight acquired by foreign investors in 2007 and 2008) increased from 8% in 2006 to 17% in 2009 in terms of assets, and from below 3% to 10.1% in terms of loans. The establishment of a number of new securities firms, banks, insurance companies, and holding companies has underscored this liberalization trend and enhanced competition. Over the past decade, nine state-owned banks have been privatized. The only Taiwan-based reinsurance company was privatized in 2002. State-controlled banks still dominate the banking sector, however, and hold a market share of 50% in terms of assets and 56% in terms of loans.
Competition from State Owned Enterprises
Taiwan launched privatization programs in 1989 and has succeeded in turning over most of its state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to private hands. As of December 2009, Taiwan authorities still control twenty SOEs, including official agencies such as the Central Bank, the Bureau of National Health Insurance, and the Export-Import Bank of ROC, that do not compete with private firms.
Progress toward privatizing some of the remaining SOEs has been stalled since 2007, largely due to opposition from SOE employees. In addition, the rising fiscal deficit has made the authorities reluctant to part with their profit-making SOEs for fear of worsening their financial situation. Currently, there is no timetable for privatizing existing SOEs except for the Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Co., which is scheduled to be privatized in March 2011.
While limited in number, some of Taiwan's SOEs are large in scale and exert significant influence in their industries. Examples include monopolies such as Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) and Taiwan Water Co., as well as the island's only aerospace product manufacturer Aerospace Industrial Development Co. (AIDC) and industry giants Chinese Petroleum Co. (CPC), Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Co., Chunghwa Post Company, Taiwan Sugar Co., Taiwan Railways Administration, Taiwan Financial Holdings and The Land Bank. The CPC controls over 70% of Taiwan’s gasoline retail market. Bank of Taiwan, one of Taiwan Financial Holdings' companies, is the island's largest bank in terms of assets. As of September 2009, Bank of Taiwan and the Land Bank account for 19% of domestic banks' total assets. With the exception of the state monopolies, the SOEs compete directly with private companies.
It is worth noting that although some SOEs have been privatized, the Taiwan authorities continue to hold minority shares and still exert a degree of control over the privatized companies, including through the appointment of the board of directors. These enterprises include Chunghwa Telecom, China Steel, Taiwan Fertilizer Co., Taiyen (Taiwan Salt), China Shipbuilding Co., Yang Ming Marine Transportation Co., and ten financial institutions.
In the banking industry in particular, the state plays a dominant role. The ten banks with minority state shares, combined with the SOEs Bank of Taiwan and the Land Bank, jointly account for about 60% of the overall domestic banking assets. Most of these banks are large in scale compared to the purely private financial institutions. Not all of them, however, make full use of economies of scale, and some banks have been underperforming. In the third quarter of 2009, the return on assets (ROA) for Bank of Taiwan, for example, is 0.13%, lower than the domestic banks' average ROA of 0.19%, according to statistic from the Central Bank.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility is a growing concept in Taiwan, one that is actively promoted by the Taiwan authorities. To help businesses embrace responsibility for the impact of their activities on the environment, consumers, employees, and communities, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and the Financial Supervisory Commission in particular have issued guidelines on ethical standards and internal control mechanisms. The MOEA also maintains a corporate social responsibility online newsletter, through which the Ministry publicizes best practices and raises awareness of the latest CSR-related developments in Taiwan and internationally.
At the corporate level, foreign and local enterprises generally make an effort to follow accepted CSR principles such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Publishing regular CSR reports is increasingly becoming the norm among businesses, especially the high-tech electronic companies. Global Views Magazine, one of Taiwan's most influential magazines, has been conducting an annual CSR survey since 2005, and has established an annual CSR award to shine the spotlight on companies that follow accepted international CSR standards and adopt transparent, environmentally conscious, and socially responsible practices. IBM Taiwan, Citibank, Bayer Taiwan, and Standard Chartered Bank (Taiwan) have been among the past years' winners.
Taiwan is a relatively young and vibrant multi-party democracy. President Ma Ying-jeou's election in 2008 marked the second peaceful, democratic transfer of power in Taiwan. There have been no reports of politically motivated damage to foreign investment. Both local and foreign companies have, however, been subject to generally peaceful protests and demonstrations relating to labor disputes and environmental issues.
Taiwan has implemented laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption. The Corruption Punishment Statute and the Criminal Code contain specific penalties for corrupt activities, including maximum jail sentences of up to ten years. In April 2009, the Legislative Yuan amended the Act for the Punishment of Corruption to bring criminal charges against civil servants who fail to account for abnormal increases in their assets.
We are not aware of cases where bribes have been solicited for foreign investment approval.
Taiwan formally became a member of the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) in July 2009, and estimates that roughly 2,000 procurement cases per year are covered by the Agreement, with a value of approximately US$6 billion per year. The Public Construction Commission (PCC) publishes all major state procurement projects that require open bidding, in accordance with WTO transparency requirements. In November 2008, the PCC submitted to the legislature a bill which would make key changes to the government procurement process. If passed, the amendment would abolish the current minimum three-bidder requirement for procurement projects, replace the 'minimum bid price' with a 'qualified bid price' to ensure the quality of procurement, and authorize contractors to seek arbitration if the government procurement mediation procedure is not completed within six months due to the fault of the procuring agency. The amendment is still pending in the Legislative Yuan.
The PCC organizes inspection teams to monitor all public procurement projects both at the central and local levels, and publishes the bidding and inspection results. A task force comprised of PCC staff and independent experts investigates complaints.
The authorities generally investigate allegations of corruption and take action to penalize corrupt officials. From June 2008 to June 2009, prosecutors indicted 1,973 persons on various corruption charges, including 125 senior officials (department director level and above) and 60 elected officials. Only one elected official, a sitting legislator from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was indicted in 2009 on charges of accepting bribes. In September 2008, former president Chen Shui-bian and his wife were convicted on corruption and money laundering charges and sentenced to life in prison. Chen, who remains in detention, has appealed his conviction.
Attempting to bribe, or accepting a bribe from, Taiwan officials constitutes a criminal offense, punishable under the Corruption Punishment Statute and the Criminal Code. The Corruption Punishment Statute also treats payment of a bribe to a foreign official as a crime and makes such a bribe subject to criminal prosecution. The maximum penalty for a public official receiving a bribe is life imprisonment or a maximum fine of NT$100 million (US$3 million). For those attempting to bribe officials, the maximum penalty is seven years in prison and a fine of NT$3 million (US$92,000). In addition, the offender will be barred from holding public office. The assets obtained from acts of corruption are seized and turned over to either the injured parties or the Treasury.
Corruption, including bribery, raises the costs and risks of doing business. Corruption has a corrosive impact on both market opportunities overseas for U.S. companies and the broader business climate. It also deters international investment, stifles economic growth and development, distorts prices, and undermines the rule of law.
It is important for U.S. companies, irrespective of their size, to assess the business climate in the relevant market in which they will be operating or investing, and to have an effective compliance program or measures to prevent and detect corruption, including foreign bribery. U.S. individuals and firms operating or investing in foreign markets should take the time to become familiar with the relevant anticorruption laws of both the foreign country and the United States in order to properly comply with them, and where appropriate, should seek the advice of legal counsel.
The U.S. Government seeks to level the global playing field for U.S. businesses by encouraging other countries to take steps to criminalize their own companies’ acts of corruption, including bribery of foreign public officials, by requiring them to uphold their obligations under relevant international conventions. A U. S. firm that believes a competitor is seeking to use bribery of a foreign public official to secure a contract should bring this to the attention of appropriate U.S. agencies, as noted below.
U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: In 1977, the United States enacted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which makes it unlawful for a U.S. person, and certain foreign issuers of securities, to make a corrupt payment to foreign public officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing business to, any person. The FCPA also applies to foreign firms and persons who take any act in furtherance of such a corrupt payment while in the United States. For more detailed information on the FCPA, see the FCPA Lay-Person’s Guide at: http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/docs/dojdocb.html.
Other Instruments: It is U.S. Government policy to promote good governance, including host country implementation and enforcement of anti-corruption laws and policies pursuant to their obligations under international agreements. Since enactment of the FCPA, the United States has been instrumental to the expansion of the international framework to fight corruption. Several significant components of this framework are the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (OECD Antibribery Convention), the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UN Convention), the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (OAS Convention), the Council of Europe Criminal and Civil Law Conventions, and a growing list of U.S. free trade agreements. Taiwan is not a party to these instruments, but prohibits the bribery and solicitation of their public officials.
OECD Antibribery Convention: The OECD Antibribery Convention entered into force in February 1999. As of December 2009, there are 38 parties to the Convention including the United States (see http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/59/13/40272933.pdf). Major exporters China, India, and Russia are not parties, although the U.S. Government strongly endorses their eventual accession to the Convention. The Convention obligates the Parties to criminalize bribery of foreign public officials in the conduct of international business. The United States meets its international obligations under the OECD Antibribery Convention through the U.S. FCPA. Taiwan is not a party to the OECD Convention.
UN Convention: The UN Anticorruption Convention entered into force on December 14, 2005, and there are 143 parties to it as of December 2009 (see http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/signatories.html). The UN Convention is the first global comprehensive international anticorruption agreement. The UN Convention requires countries to establish criminal and other offences to cover a wide range of acts of corruption. The UN Convention goes beyond previous anticorruption instruments, covering a broad range of issues ranging from basic forms of corruption such as bribery and solicitation, embezzlement, trading in influence to the concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption. The Convention contains transnational business bribery provisions that are functionally similar to those in the OECD Antibribery Convention and contains provisions on private sector auditing and books and records requirements. Other provisions address matters such as prevention, international cooperation, and asset recovery. Taiwan is not a party to the UN Convention.
OAS Convention: In 1996, the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted the first international anticorruption legal instrument, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (OAS Convention), which entered into force in March 1997. The OAS Convention, among other things, establishes a set of preventive measures against corruption, provides for the criminalization of certain acts of corruption, including transnational bribery and illicit enrichment, and contains a series of provisions to strengthen the cooperation between its States Parties in areas such as mutual legal assistance and technical cooperation. As of December 2009, the OAS Convention has 33 parties (see http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/Sigs/b-58.html). Taiwan is not a party to the OAS Convention.
Council of Europe Criminal Law and Civil Law Conventions: Many European countries are parties to either the Council of Europe (CoE) Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, the Civil Law Convention, or both. The Criminal Law Convention requires criminalization of a wide range of national and transnational conduct, including bribery, money-laundering, and account offenses. It also incorporates provisions on liability of legal persons and witness protection. The Civil Law Convention includes provisions on compensation for damage relating to corrupt acts, whistleblower protection, and validity of contracts, inter alia. The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) was established in 1999 by the CoE to monitor compliance with these and related anti-corruption standards. Currently, GRECO comprises 46 member States (45 European countries and the United States). As of December 2009, the Criminal Law Convention has 42 parties and the Civil Law Convention has 34 (see www.coe.int/greco.) Taiwan is not a party to the Council of Europe Conventions.
Free Trade Agreements: While it is U.S. Government policy to include anticorruption provisions in free trade agreements (FTAs) that it negotiates with its trading partners, the anticorruption provisions have evolved over time. The most recent FTAs negotiated now require trading partners to criminalize “active bribery” of public officials (offering bribes to any public official must be made a criminal offense, both domestically and trans-nationally) as well as domestic “passive bribery” (solicitation of a bribe by a domestic official). All U.S. FTAs may be found at the U.S. Trade Representative Website: http://www.ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements. Taiwan does not have a FTA with the United States.
Local Laws: U.S. firms should familiarize themselves with local anticorruption laws, and, where appropriate, seek legal counsel. While the U.S. Department of Commerce cannot provide legal advice on local laws, the Department’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service can provide assistance with navigating Taiwan's legal system and obtaining a list of local legal counsel.
Assistance for U.S. Businesses: The U.S. Department of Commerce offers several services to aid U.S. businesses seeking to address business-related corruption issues. For example, the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service can provide services that may assist U.S. companies in conducting their due diligence as part of the company’s overarching compliance program when choosing business partners or agents overseas. The U.S. Foreign and Commercial Service can be reached directly through its offices in every major U.S. and foreign city, or through its Website at www.trade.gov/cs.
The Departments of Commerce and State provide worldwide support for qualified U.S. companies bidding on foreign government contracts through the Commerce Department’s Advocacy Center and State’s Office of Commercial and Business Affairs. Problems, including alleged corruption by foreign governments or competitors, encountered by U.S. companies in seeking such foreign business opportunities can be brought to the attention of appropriate U.S. government officials, including at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and through the Department of Commerce Trade Compliance Center “Report A Trade Barrier” Website at tcc.export.gov/Report_a_Barrier/index.asp.
Guidance on the U.S. FCPA: The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) FCPA Opinion Procedure enables U.S. firms and individuals to request a statement of the Justice Department’s present enforcement intentions under the antibribery provisions of the FCPA regarding any proposed business conduct. The details of the opinion procedure are available on DOJ’s Fraud Section Website at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa. Although the Department of Commerce has no enforcement role with respect to the FCPA, it supplies general guidance to U.S. exporters who have questions about the FCPA and about international developments concerning the FCPA. For further information, see the Office of the Chief Counsel for International Counsel, U.S. Department of Commerce, Website, at http://www.ogc.doc.gov/trans_anti_bribery.html. More general information on the FCPA is available at the Websites listed below.
Exporters and investors should be aware that generally all countries prohibit the bribery of their public officials, and prohibit their officials from soliciting bribes under domestic laws. Most countries are required to criminalize such bribery and other acts of corruption by virtue of being parties to various international conventions discussed above.
Some useful resources for individuals and companies regarding combating corruption in global markets include the following:
Information about the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), including a “Lay-Person’s Guide to the FCPA” is available at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Website at: http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.
Information about the OECD Antibribery Convention including links to national implementing legislation and country monitoring reports is available at: http://www.oecd.org/department/0,3355,en_2649_34859_1_1_1_1_1,00.html. See also new Antibribery Recommendation and Good Practice Guidance Annex for companies: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/11/40/44176910.pdf
General information about anticorruption initiatives, such as the OECD Convention and the FCPA, including translations of the statute into several languages, is available at the Department of Commerce Office of the Chief Counsel for International Commerce Website: http://www.ogc.doc.gov/trans_anti_bribery.html.
Transparency International (TI) publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The CPI measures the perceived level of public-sector corruption in 180 countries and territories around the world. The CPI is available at: http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2009. TI also publishes an annual Global Corruption Report which provides a systematic evaluation of the state of corruption around the world. It includes an in-depth analysis of a focal theme, a series of country reports that document major corruption related events and developments from all continents and an overview of the latest research findings on anti-corruption diagnostics and tools. See http://www.transparency.org/publications/gcr.
The World Bank Institute publishes Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI). These indicators assess six dimensions of governance in 212 countries, including Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption. See http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/sc_country.asp. The World Bank Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Surveys may also be of interest and are available at: http://go.worldbank.org/RQQXYJ6210.
The World Economic Forum publishes the Global Enabling Trade Report, which presents the rankings of the Enabling Trade Index, and includes an assessment of the transparency of border administration (focused on bribe payments and corruption) and a separate segment on corruption and the regulatory environment. See http://www.weforum.org/en/initiatives/gcp/GlobalEnablingTradeReport/index.htm.
Additional country information related to corruption can be found in the U.S. State Department’s annual Human Rights Report available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/.
Global Integrity, a nonprofit organization, publishes its annual Global Integrity Report, which provides indicators for 92 countries with respect to governance and anti-corruption. The report highlights the strengths and weaknesses of national level anti-corruption systems. The report is available at: http://report.globalintegrity.org/.
Bilateral Investment Agreements
Taiwan has concluded bilateral investment agreements with the following 26 countries: Argentina, Belize, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Liberia, Malaysia, Macedonia, Malawi, the Marshall Islands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Swaziland, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The terms of the 1948 Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation Treaty between the Republic of China and the United States are still in force, and under its terms U.S. investors are generally accorded national treatment and are provided with a number of protections, including protection against expropriation. Taiwan and the United States also have an agreement, signed in 1952, pertaining to investment guarantees that serve as the basis for the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) program in Taiwan. In September 1994, representatives of the United States and Taiwan signed a bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to serve as the basis for consultations on trade and investment issues. Such consultations are ongoing.
OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs
OPIC programs are available to U.S. investors, though U.S. investors have never filed an OPIC insurance claim for an investment in Taiwan. Taiwan is not a member of the Multilateral Investment Guaranty Agency.
The global financial crisis dampened Taiwan's export-oriented economy in 2008 and 2009, and pushed up the unemployment rate to 5.86% in November 2009, down slightly from the historic high of 6.13% recorded in August 2009. In the industrial sector, the number of blue-collar foreign workers declined from a peak of 206,500 in October 2008 to 173,600 in October 2009.
There are no special hiring practices in Taiwan. Employees are typically paid at least a one-month bonus at the end of the year. Benefits often include meals, transportation, and dormitory housing or related allowances. Dividend-sharing is common in high-tech industries. A standard labor insurance program is mandatory. The program provides paid maternity leave, a lump-sum or annuity retirement plan, and other benefits. A new retirement system implemented in July 2005 abolishes the voluntary retirement scheme under an old system which still covers roughly 30% of the total labor force. The old system grants employees voluntary retirement at age 55 with 15 years of service. Employees hired after July 2005 must join the new system, which sets retirement at age 65. The new system requires the employer to contribute six percent of an employee's monthly wage to accounts at designated banking institutions. The accounts follow the employees as they move from one employer to another. A universal national health insurance system, to which employers contribute, covers all Taiwan residents.
Taiwan provides unemployment relief based on the Employment Insurance Law enacted in 2002. Alternatives for unemployment pay include a vocational training allowance for jobless persons and employment subsidies to encourage the hiring of jobless persons. The Labor Standards Law (LSL) sets a standard eight-hour workday and a biweekly maximum of 84 hours. The public sector and most private firms have a five-day workweek. The LSL restricts child labor and requires employers to provide overtime pay, severance pay, and retirement benefits. The LSL covers both manufacturing and service sectors. Violators are liable to criminal penalties (jail terms) and administrative punishments (fines).
Minimum wages were last raised in July 2007. The minimum monthly wage is NT$17,280 (US$532) and the minimum hourly wage is NT$95 (US$2.90). Monthly manufacturing sector wages in the first ten months of 2009 averaged NT$39,215 (US$1,211) including overtime, allowances and bonuses. This was 14% lower than monthly wages for the same period in 2008, and was caused by numerous businesses implementing leave without pay for employees during the economic slowdown, which allowed companies to reduce costs without firing staff.
Labor unions have become more active and independent since Taiwan’s martial law was lifted in 1987. Privatization, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), the new retirement system, and the recent economic slowdown contributed to an increase in labor disputes over the past four years. Taiwan is not a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) but adheres to the ILO conventions in the protection of workers’ rights.
Foreign-Trade Zones/Free Ports
The first free trade/free port zone began operation at Keelung, Taiwan’s northern port, in November 2004. Another four were established in 2005 at Taoyuan International Airport and the international harbors in Kaohsiung, Taichung, and Taipei. Taiwan authorities have relaxed restrictions on the movement of merchandise, capital and personnel into and out of such zones. Foreign investors are accorded national treatment.
Foreign Direct Investment Statistics
Statistics on foreign direct investment in Taiwan are available from two sources. The Investment Commission (IC) publishes monthly and yearly foreign investment approval statistics by industry and by country. While these statistics do not correspond exactly to actual commitments of investment funds, AIT believes these data serve as a good proxy and provides data by industry and country of origin. The Central Bank of the ROC (Taiwan) (CBT) publishes foreign direct investment arrivals on a quarterly and yearly basis. CBT data, contained in balance-of-payments (BOP) statistics, are not further classified by industry or country.
As of the end of 2008, Taiwan's total stock of foreign direct investment stood at US$102 billion, valued at historical cost. This represents about 25.4% of Taiwan's 2008 GDP. Total FDI inflows for 2008, based on approvals, stood at US$8.2 billion, or about 2% of 2008 GDP.
As of December 2009, Taiwan's foreign exchange reserves amounted to US$348 billion, the fourth-largest in the world.
After experiencing a growth of 0.7% in 2008, Taiwan's GDP continued to shrink in the first three quarters of 2009. Although the trend was likely to have reversed in the fourth quarter, the overall 2009 GDP growth is expected to be negative 2.53%. Inbound foreign direct investment approved from January to November of 2009 dropped 45.7% year-on-year.
In recent years, foreign direct investment has shifted from capital-intensive high-tech industries to investments in the financial service sector. Approved direct investment in electronics industries (including electronic parts and components, computers, communications, semiconductor, TFT-LCD and other optical electronic products), which peaked at 47% as a percentage of total FDI in 2006, declined steadily to 22% in 2007, 11% in 2008, and 7% as of November 2009. Meanwhile, the percentage share for investment in financial services increased to 34% in 2006, 33% in 2007, 54% in 2008, and 52% in November 2009. Nearly 80% of the approved inbound direct investment in Taiwan’s electronics industries came from the United States, Europe and Japan. Over 70% of the approved inbound direct investment in the banking and insurance sector were from the United States, Europe, and British territories in North America.
According to official Taiwan statistics, approvals for U.S. investment from 1952 to 2008 totaled US$19.9 billion (US$16.6 billion according to official U.S. figures), or 20% of total foreign investment. These aggregate figures of investment stock are valued at historical cost. Of total U.S. investments, 30% was directed toward the electronics and electrical industries, and 50% toward the service sector. Approvals for Japanese investment from 1952 to 2008 amounted to US$15.5 billion, or 16% of total foreign investment, of which 33% was in electronics and electrical industries and another 33% in the service sector. In 2006 and 2007, new investment from Europe exceeded that of the United States and Japan due to a major holdings transfer by the Philips Company and a major acquisition by Standard Chartered Bank.
As the tables below indicate, significant FDI now comes from the tax havens of British Territories in America (BTA), which harbor a growing number of multinational corporations, including those with Taiwan roots. One quarter of the investment from the BTA was directed towards financial services and another quarter to the electronic and electrical industries.
As a relatively open and liberal economy, Taiwan receives foreign investment while its businesses invest overseas. According to balance-of-payments statistics compiled by the Central Bank, outbound direct investment has exceeded inbound direct investment every year since 1988. According to IC statistics, by 2008, cumulative approvals for outbound investments totaled US$135.4 billion. The main recipient has been the PRC, which has received over half of Taiwan’s outbound investment. Approved investments to China increased by 7% in 2008, during which 56% of Taiwan's new overseas investment went to the PRC. It is estimated that Taiwan firms hold investments in excess of US$100 billion on the Mainland, much of which is not reported to Taiwan authorities.
Taiwan business firms have been relocating their production bases to China since the late 1980s. The WTO accessions of the PRC and Taiwan in 2002 prompted Taiwan business firms to accelerate this relocation to sharpen their competitive edge in exports. Taiwan factories based in China use the lower labor and land costs to process Taiwan-made production inputs into finished goods for exports to such industrial markets as the United States, Japan and Europe, and also for final sale in China. Recently however, rising labor and land costs on the Mainland have prompted some Taiwan firms to move from China to nations in South and Southeast Asia, including Vietnam. Many Taiwan firms have also shifted to producing higher value-added goods and higher-tech products in China.
Taiwan's annual registered direct investment across the Taiwan Strait grew from US$1.25 billion in 1999 to US $10.7 billion in 2008. As a result of this trend, Taiwan factories in China produced nearly 50% of export orders received by Taiwan companies’ headquarters by November 2009, up from 11.5% in early 2000. The ratio is closer to 85% for information technology (IT) firms. China, including Hong Kong, replaced the United States as Taiwan's largest export market in 2001, and its share of Taiwan's exports in 2009 averaged 41%, compared to 12% for the United States and 11% for the European Union.
Table 1: Foreign Investment Approvals by Year and by Area (1952-2008)
(Unit: US$ million)
* British Territories in America
Table 2: Foreign Investment Approvals by Industry and Area (1952-2008)
(Unit: US$ million)
|Banking & Insurance||7,985||1,187||4,245||7,448||964||4,400||26229|
|Electronic Parts & Components||2,354||2,180||2,173||7,262||104||1,370||15443|
|Wholesale & Retail Trade||1,526||1,627||1,892||1,781||607||1,679||9,112|
|Computers, Electronic & Optical Products||1,002||1,247||1,809||531||282||1,307||6,178|
|Information & Communications||1,012||167||1,516||582||282||1,765||5,324|
|Professional and S&T Services||591||1,278||573||435||293||1,625||4,795|
|Non-metallic Mineral Products||271||336||47||2,732||81||273||3,740|
|Fabricated Metal Products||369||858||400||306||157||1,028||3,118|
|Machinery & Equipment||412||831||252||331||114||259||2,199|
|Lodging & Food Services||268||643||151||296||283||189||1,830|
|Transportation & Storage||83||93||153||108||179||772||1,388|
Table 3: Outbound Investment Approvals by Year and by Area (1952-2008)
(Unit: US$ million)
Note: "ASEAN" here includes six of ASEAN countries: Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Table 4: Outbound Investment Approvals by Industry and by Area (1952-2008)
(Unit: US$ million)
|Banking & Insurance||816||17,262||1,983||2, 597||5,416||28,074|
|Electronic Parts & Components||12,413||517||1,386||3,147||1,610||19,073|
|Computers, Electronic & Optical Products||11,870||186||1,144||572||944||14,716|
|Wholesale & Retail Trade||2,587||1,526||1,096||532||1,413||7,154|
|Fabricated Metal Products||4,640||81||221||234||220||5,396|
|Machinery & Equipment||3,192||41||154||76||140||3,603|
|Transp. Equipment & Parts||2,312||55||176||209||389||3,141|
|Information & Communications||1,017||196||942||108||573||2,836|
|Transportation & Storage||538||165||105||354||1,107||2,269|
Table 5: Major U.S. Investors in Taiwan
|U.S. Investor/Local Investment||Major Products|
|Amkor Technology Ltd./Amkor Technology Taiwan ||Integrated circuit packaging and testing|
Far East Air Transport Corp.
Nan Shan Life Insurance Co.
|Pruco Insurance Group/Masterlink Securities Co.||Securities|
|Corning Inc./Corning Glass Taiwan Co., Ltd.||Substrate glass for TFT/LCD|
Taiwan Fixed Network Telecom
Taiwan Cellular Corp.
|Fixed-line and mobile phone service|
Ta Chong Commercial Bank
|Ensite Limited (Ford Motor)/Ford Lio Ho Motor Co.||Autos|
|Texas Instruments Inc./Texas Instruments Taiwan Ltd.||Semiconductors|
|E.I. Dupont De Nemours/Dupont Taiwan Ltd.||Industrial, electronic, agricultural goods |
|IBM Corp./IBM Taiwan Ltd.||Computers: sales & service|
|AETNA Life Insurance Co. Taiwan Branch||Insurance|
|View Sonic Co./Taiwan PCS Network Inc.||Mobile phone service|
|UPS International/UPS, Taiwan Branch||Worldwide express service|
|Intel Inc./Intex. Co.||ADSL chipset|
|Applied Materials Ltd./Applied Materials Taiwan Ltd.||Semiconductor manufacturing equipment|
|General Motors Co./Yulon GM Motor Co.||Auto assembly & sales|
|GE Consumer Finance/Cosmos Bank||Banking|
|Jabil Circuit Inc./Taiwan Green Point Enterprise Co.||Telecom components|
Bank of Overseas Chinese
|Oaktree Capital Management Co./Fu Sheng Industrial Co.||Golf club head and compressor|
|Fairchild Semiconductor Co./System General Corp.||Power management products|
|AIU Insurance Co./Central Insurance Co.||Insurance|
Table 6: Major Japanese Investments in Taiwan
|Japanese Investors/Investment||Major Products|
|Toppan Printing Co./Toppan Electronics (Taiwan) Co.|
Toppan CFI (Taiwan) Co.
Color filter sales and production
|Nippon Sheet Glass Co./Taiwan Auto Glass Industry Co.|
Nippon Sheet Glass (Taiwan) Ltd.
|Auto glass and substrate glass|
|Asahi Glass Co. (AGC)/Asahi Glass (Taiwan) Co.||Substrate glass|
|NTT DoCoMo/Far Eastone Telecom. Co. ||Phone service|
|Taiwan Shinkansen Corp./Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp.||High speed rail |
|Nissan Motor/Yulon Motor||Autos|
|Toyota Motor/Kuozui Motor||Autos|
|Panasonic Corporation/Panasonic Taiwan Co., Ltd.||Electrical appliances|
|Hitachi Co./Taiwan Hitachi Co., Ltd.|
Kaohsiung Hitachi Electronics Co., Ltd.
|Electrical appliances and components|
|Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd./Yamaha Motor Taiwan Co., Ltd.||Motorcycles|
|Sankyo Co./Sankyo Co. Taipei||Pharmaceuticals|
|Idemitsu Co./Shinkong Idemitsu Corp.||Petrochemicals|
|Mitsui Co./Mitsui (Taiwan)||Trading|
|Takashimaya Co./Ta-ya Takashimaya Department Store||Department Store|
|Sumitomo Co./Sumitomo (Taiwan)||Trading|
|Toshiba Co./Toshiba Compressor (Taiwan)||Compressors|
|Sadagawa Steel Co./Sheng Yu Steel Co.||Steel|
|Shin-Etsu Handotai Co./Shin-Etsu Handotai Taiwan Co.||Semiconductor|
|Sumco Techxiv Co./Formosa Sumco Technology Co.||Silicon wafer|
|Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co./Taiwan Copper Foil Co.||Copper foil|
|Kirin Brewery Co./Taiwan Kirin Co.||Beer sales|
|Nomura Securities/Taishin Financial Holdings||Banking|
|Shinsei Bank/Jih Sun Financial Holdings||Banking|
|Nippon Life Insurance Co./Shin Kong Financial Holdings Co.||Banking|
Table 7: Major European Investments in Taiwan
|European Investors/Investment||Major Products|
|Deutsche Telecom/Eastern Broadband Telecom||Fixed-line service|
|Volkswagen Ag/Ching Chung Motor Co.||Autos|
|Dresdner Bank Ag/Grand Cathay Securities||Securities|
|Imperial Chemical Inc./ICI Taiwan Ltd.||Chemicals|
|N.V. Philips/Philips Electronics (Taiwan)||Electronics|
|Alcatel Co./Alcatel Taisel Co.||Switch boards|
|Horwood Investment/Chi Mei Industry Co.||Petrochemicals|
|H.S. Development & Finance/ChinaTrust Commercial Bank||Banking|
|Qimonda Inc./Inotera Co.||DRAM|
|Isenbourg-sgp, Lda/RT-Mart International Ltd.||Shopping malls|
|Standard Chartered Bank/Standard Chartered Bank, Taiwan||Banking|
|SKF Co./ABBA Liner Tech Co.||Ball screw, liner guideway|
|Longreach Edith Investment Co./En Tie Commercial Bank||Banking|
|CVC Capital/NienMade Enterprise Co.||Custom-made shutter/blinds|
|CMA CGM/CNC Line||Shipping service|
Web ResourcesCommerce Department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA):
Bureau of Foreign Trade, MOEA: http://www.trade.gov.tw
Department of Investment Services, MOEA: http://www.dois.moea.gov.tw/
Investment Commission, MOEA: http://www.moeaic.gov.tw
Taiwan Intellectual Property Office, MOEA: http://www.tipo.gov.tw
Council of Labor Affairs, Executive Yuan: http://www.cla.gov.tw