12 Sep 2019 Taiwan Legal Update:Taiwan turns to WTO & Google’s Second Data Center
Taiwan Responds to India’s Tech Tariffs
Taiwan initiates dispute proceedings in response to India’s tariffs on information and communications goods.
Dispute consultations were presented to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday. In a statement, the WTO announced Taiwan has requested consultations regarding duties imposed on phones, amplifiers, digital cameras, base stations, optical fiber cables and electronic integrated circuits. This request was circulated to WTO members on September 9th.
According to the WTO, Taiwan alleges that despite India’s legally binding commitment in the WTO that it would not charge import duties on ICT products, India has been applying duties ranging from 7.5% to 20%, thus, violating global trade rules. Under WTO rules, India must respond to Taiwan’s request by September 12th. By this date, Taiwan will be aware of India’s position and perhaps begin to resolve the tariff dispute.
The request for consultations formally initiates a dispute in the WTO. Consultations allow parties to discuss and resolve the dispute without litigation. If consultations have failed to resolve the dispute, the complainant may request adjudication by a panel, after 60 days.
The mission outlines that these tariffs have been rising incrementally since 2014. Taiwan is not the first to raise concern over the tariff hikes. In April, the European Union challenged similar measures by initiating WTO dispute proceedings; this dispute is yet to be resolved. Similarly, Japan challenged this issue in May. Finally, Canada, Thailand, the US and Singapore have also raised the same concerns.
Google Unveils Plans to Open Second data center in Taiwan
The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) announced Google’s Taiwan expansion plan in a statement published on Wednesday. According to the MOEA, Google’s land purchase at Tainan Science and Technology Industrial Park will respond to their « operational needs ». Google engaged with the MOEA, The Tainan Municipal Government, Tainan Science and Technology Industrial Park and Taiwan Power Company during the site selection process.
When outlining the reasons behind this decision, google notably mentioned Taiwan’s competitive, international high-tech industry and also its advantageous position in the heart of Asia. These are also the advantages that Google cited when launching the data center in Changhua in 2013.
Environmental commitments were also outlined during this announcement. Google will be investing in several environmental protection initiatives, including waste management plans and electric vehicle charging stations. At the beginning of 2019, Google committed to a long-term commitment to adopting renewable energy in Taiwan by purchasing 10MW (million) renewable energy power from a solar power plant located in Tainan City.
Over the past few years, Google has continued to support the development of neighboring communities in the Taiwan Data Center through the Datacenter Community Grant Program. From 2015, there have been more than 40 public schools and non-profit organizations and more than 50 projects to help local communities develop a total of $430,000 (about NT$13.5 million) in grants. The program is designed to support STEM education, assist in the digital divide, and develop actions to maintain regional ecology.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs states that it will « continue to work with Google to expand investment and cooperation in Taiwan ».
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