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Speech by Vice President Vincent C. Siew at the opening ceremony of the ICMCI Biennial Congress in Taipei

ICMCI Chair Dr. Aneeta Madhok,
Chairman Liu of the BMCA,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning!

On behalf of the government and people of the Republic of China, I welcome all our guests to Taiwan for the 2011 ICMCI Biennial Congress. Since its founding in 1987, ICMCI has actively promoted professional cooperation and interaction among its member organizations, and the results have been outstanding. I am very pleased that this year's congress is being held in Taipei, and am more than confident that the professional support provided by the BMCA, along with the hospitality of the people of Taiwan, will ensure that our distinguished guests will feel very much at home here in Taiwan.

It is not easy to run a modern corporation, for it involves many different aspects, including human resources, financial affairs, research & development, production, marketing, and quality control. Each of these areas requires a high degree of professional expertise, and each is closely linked to all the others. Management consulting, therefore, is a highly knowledge-intensive business that has an important impact upon both corporate management and national development. I believe that a management consultant is like a coach, who helps clients identify and achieve future goals. And the highly developed state of management consulting shows that governmental bodies and corporations in Taiwan definitely have the vigor required to set off in new directions and undertake to reform themselves. This vigor is precisely the force that drives the progress and development of our corporations and our nation.

Over the past 40-plus years, I have served as Director-General of the Bureau of Foreign Trade, Minister of Economic Affairs, Chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, and Premier. I have taken part in the formulation and implementation of many economic and trade policies, and have close ties with the business community here in Taiwan. For these reasons, I am quite clear about the importance of management consulting to economic development in our country.

At the suggestion of some economists, our government in the late 1950s began to reform the exchange rate system and adopted an export-led trade policy. As a result, Taiwan was able to align itself with the global trend toward global trade liberalization sooner than most other developing nations. From a small, agricultural economy, Taiwan quickly changed into a major trading power with a highly developed industrial sector.

Most major corporations in Taiwan at that time were state-run enterprises, while the overwhelming majority of firms engaged in international trade were small companies. We often referred to the owners of these latter firms as "blue-collar bosses." They lacked international experience, spoke poor English, and certainly did not have degrees in business management. What they did have, however, was skills and hard-working employees. Carrying briefcases full of samples, they traveled around the world drumming up orders. It is thanks to them that the phrase "made in Taiwan" became famous the world over.

Different types of manufacturers have taken turns over the past 50 years acting as the locomotives of Taiwanese industry. Originally it was simple processing firms engaged in the manufacture of textiles, toys, umbrellas, shoes and other consumer products, but today the role is played by leading-edge makers of high-tech information and communications products. And whereas the early manufacturers operated in Taiwan, today's big makers have operations spread across the globe. Entrepreneurial spirit has been indispensable in this process of change, to be sure, but management consulting entities established by both the government and private companies have also played the important role of "knowledge navigators" to guide the efforts of those engaged in the running of enterprises. In a timely manner, management consulting firms have provided corporations with support that has enabled them to continually remake themselves, upgrade capabilities, and keep pace with the changing times.

Looking back on the past half-century of evolution in the global economy, one notes that, prior to the 1990s, a corporation stayed competitive mainly by upgrading production technologies and controlling costs. In the 1990s, however, global markets began to take shape, and corporate management entered into the era of the Internet and knowledge management. The main source of a corporation's competitiveness since that time has been its ability to innovate and create value. And even more importantly, a corporation now needs an international perspective and access to high-powered business management consulting services. For this reason, I firmly believe that there are many challenges and opportunities in store for management consulting firms.

More than 70% of Taiwan's management consulting firms employ 10 persons or less, and there are only about 20,000 people in all working in the industry, which has a total economic output of about NT$28.5 billion. This figure may not be so high, but the impact of the services provided is certainly greater than that of any other sector within the knowledge services industry.

Management consulting firms in Taiwan are rather small, to be sure, but when you consider how much experience they've built up, especially with small and medium enterprises that need help with plans to establish an international presence, it seems quite clear that Taiwan's management consulting firms are in excellent position to lend assistance to other countries that intend to develop small and medium enterprises or expand into markets in mainland China and elsewhere in East Asia.

I am very grateful to the BMCA for its hard work to promote international ties. Among other efforts, it recently organized the “2011 ICMCI Pre-Congress Seminar”. Many of the world's leading experts spoke at the event, which introduced many new concepts and international perspectives to local participants.

Leading management consultants from 30 different countries are here in Taipei for the 2011 ICMCI Biennial Congress. I am confident that the give-and-take between participants in this event will do much to raise the overall level of professionalism and service quality within the industry, and will enable management consulting firms to provide companies and governments around the world with even better service.

Just four days from now, we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China. All sorts of celebrations are scheduled for the big day, so I do hope that our guests will have a chance to stay here to take part in the activities and enjoy the festive atmosphere. The people of Taiwan are very warm and friendly, and the food here is delicious. I dare say you'll be very glad you came!

And finally, in closing, I would like once again to welcome everyone to Taiwan, and look forward to a tremendously successful 2011 ICMCI Biennial Congress. I wish you all the best of good health and success. Thank you!

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