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September 26, 2017

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Open government essential to digital economy: minister

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Three days into her new position, Audrey Tang, the youngest Cabinet minister in Taiwan's history (唐鳳) pointed to two conditions key to the current administration's goal of developing the digital industry — an equal society and open governance.

Tang delivered opening remarks at the Bureau of Foreign Trade's (經濟局) 2016 Asia eCommerce Forum in Taipei Wednesday, via a prerecorded video clip.

An equal and dynamic internet society is one that provides fair opportunities for everyone, as well as more channels for social participation through the use of digital technology, Tang said.

"By open governance, I mean the government must enhance its digital technology capabilities, opening up data and shifting to an embracing mindset to faster address public needs."

Tang said that eCommerce was the industry with the most growth potential in Taiwan. A recent World Economic Forum rating listed Taiwan among the top 20 in the world in information infrastructure and government support of innovative policies, while more than 98 percent of local households use 100 Mbps high-speed broadband, she said.

Speaking on the obstacles Taiwan faces, she said regulations were been slow to catch up with rapid changes in the world. Another challenge is the "ingrained manufacturing mindset that has conditioned practices in talent cultivation, policy design and business models," she said.

In August, the 35-year-old programming expert and former advisor to BenQ and Apple was appointed to join the Cabinet.

Tang has been dubbed a "tech prodigy," having taught herself computer programing at the age of eight. At 16, she started an internet company and "retired" at 34. She has since been an active member of the open source community and a major contributor to (零時政府) — a platform aimed at improving government transparency.

Premier Lin Chuan (林全) previously said Tang's achievements in digital and open government initiatives had been recognized worldwide and that she could lend her knowledge of digital technologies and systems to help "digitalize government agencies" and improve communication channels.

Going Digital

Hosted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (經濟部), the 2016 Asia eCommerce Forum is underway from Oct. 5 to Oct. 6 in Taipei, featuring keynote speeches from 17 corporate leaders with firms including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Indiegogo,, Microsoft, OTTO, Rakuten and Twitter.

Jamie Lin (林之晨), chairman of the Taiwan Internet and E-Commerce Association (TiEA, 網路暨電商產發會), stressed that the firms with the highest capital are now all eCommerce companies and that "eCommerce should not be thought of as something a future trend, but in the present tense."

"With 20-percent less costs, internet companies could generate the same net profits as traditional retailers. It can be expected that within the next 20 years, eCommerce will not only revolutionize channels, but will completely overhaul business models as we know them," Lin said.

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