Wed, Jan 19, 2000 - Page 18 News List

E-billions there for the taking

FOREFRONT If local businesses seize the initiative they could lead the region, but the government's unwillingness to adopt international standards is posing a problem

By Stuart Young  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwanese semiconductor industry could reap billions of dollars in foreign investment set to flow into Asia, but are being hindered by government bureaucracy, industry leaders said yesterday.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting East Asia (PWC) partner, John Moran, told an audience of top industry leaders that changes in the global semiconductor industry meant that foreign investment dollars would soon flow into the region.

"There are billions and billions of dollars coming into Asia as semiconductor manufacturers in Europe and the US are shutting down. So there is an enormous amount of growth in the area of how to use e-business," Moran said.

E-business -- which includes e-commerce, e-supply chain and other business electronic information exchange functions -- has been heralded as a defining factor in the success or failure of enterprises in the near future.

Moran was presenting PwC's e-business expertise and e-supply chain services to an array of top executives in Taiwan's semiconductor and other sectors.

Taiwanese companies need to be more open to partnerships in order to meet the competitive challenge of the near future, he said.

"Taiwan needs to be more open when working with others, for example with suppliers in other countries, on how to work together to create brand new channels, cut out some layers. This will create more value for Taiwan and work on Taiwan's competitiveness -- creating products out of ideas quickly and with high quality," he said.

Taiwanese bureaucracy, however, remains a hindrance to the industry's development, according to Herman Hsia (夏漢民), presidential information industry advisor and president of the National Information Infrastructure and Enterprise Promotion Association (NII, 資訊發展協會).

Civil service resistance to the adoption of global standards was delaying the creation of the necessary regulatory environment for the development of standards for immediate financial transfers and other e-business standards, Hsia said.

"I have tried to convince the finance ministry but they say it doesn't fit certain local regulations .... We need to change those regulations now, because e-business grows so fast -- if we don't learn fast then we'll soon be left behind," he said.

Hsia added that legislators keen to invest in high-tech stocks were hindering the work of technical professionals.

"Recently legislators tried to do things that are improper -- but they are not the professional people, and they don't know how to invest in the high-tech sector," he said.

"Taiwan needs specialized committees made up of professional advisors aiding legislators, like in the US," he added.

The former Minister of State left the legislature three years ago to set up the NII funded by Taiwan's private sector.

Standardization continues to be a significant obstacle to implementing an e-supply chain, said CW Lin (林欽文), senior vice president at Inventec Corp's (英業達集團) e-business group.

"Our main problem is standardization, which applies across the board, whether it's our own supply chain, or the Taiweb, or other relationships across the Internet. For example, Intel is one of our suppliers but they have a better system than we have. So we're watching the moves of the major companies to create a common format for supply chains.

Lin added that a lack of information resource planning by a firm's downstream suppliers of computer parts was a major obstacle to creating an e-supply chain.

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