Taiwan-U.S. partnership could spur new supply chain: vice premier

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Taipei, Aug. 12 (CNA) Vice Premier Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said Wednesday that Taiwan’s collaboration with the United States on COVID-19 pandemic control presents an opportunity for the development of a new industrial supply chain.

“Because of the trust between the two sides, there will be more and more opportunities for bilateral industrial cooperation,” Shen said during a visit to Chang Hong Machinery Co. in New Taipei with a delegation led by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

Shen said he would like to see Taiwan and U.S. industries working together to build a new industrial supply chain between the two countries.

The vice premier was the key figure in the establishment of Taiwan’s National Face Mask Team, a group of private sector manufacturers commissioned by the government earlier this year to produce face masks and mask-making machines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the program, which started in February, Taiwan managed to raise its daily output of surgical masks from 1.88 million before the pandemic to 20 million in May.

Shen said the expanded output allowed Taiwan to assist other countries with surgical masks and eventually to produce its own raw materials for the manufacture of masks.

In the area of mask-making equipment, Taiwan now has enough for export, Shen said, citing the example of Chang Hong Machinery, which has shipped 25 face mask machines to the U.S. and more than 40 to Europe and Canada.

“The entire face mask industry can contribute to the international pandemic control efforts,” he said.

During the visit, Azar said he was impressed by the high quality of products made in Taiwan through private and public sector cooperation.

He said more Chang Hong machines will be sold to the U.S. to boost the country’s capability for mass production of face masks.

After Azar’s visit, Chang Hong Chairman Lu Ching-lin (呂清林) told reporters that the American health secretary seemed particularly interested in the production process for face mask machines.

Other members of the U.S. delegation that visited the plant included Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Robert Kadlec and Chief of Staff in the health department Brian Harrison.

(By Chen Yun-yu, Wang Hung-kuo and Elizabeth Hsu)

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