Fri, Jan 28, 2000 - Page 18 News List

Swaziland woos Taiwanese investors

SWEETENERS Cheap, easily trained labor and a package of tax incentives are being offered to those companies who venture to the African nation to set up operations

By Cybil Chou  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lin Yi-fu, left, Administrative Vice Minister of Economic Affairs, and Dr. B.S.S. Dlamini, right, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland, held a new conference yesterday to encourage Taiwanese investment in the kingdom.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Swaziland officials were in town yesterday to lure Taiwanese investors to their country, citing the success of one local garment company as support for their cause.

"We will ensure stable political and economic development and create an unfettered investment environment for Taiwanese companies," Dr. Barnabas Sisbusiso Dlamini, Swaziland's prime minister said yesterday at an investment seminar in Taipei.

Dlamini currently heads a delegation to Taiwan on a mission to entice investment, particularly in labor-intensive industries, to Swaziland, Taiwan's 31-year-old diplomatic allies in southeast Africa.

He added that the Swaziland government puts great importance on Taiwanese investment, and pointed out that ventures by Taiwanese company Tuntex Inc (東豐纖維股份有限公司) have proved beneficial to both his country and the company.

Currently Tuntex Inc, a subsidiary of the Tuntex Group (東帝士集團), is the only Taiwanese firm currently investing in Swaziland, first beginning operations there in 1997.

The company has textile investments in Singapore, China, Indonesia and Mexico.

Tuntex suffered a slight loss of US$110,000 in 1998 but enjoyed a turnaround the next year, reporting profits of US$ 500,0000 against a revenue of US$10 million.

"The free garment export quota to the US and EU that Swaziland enjoys makes it a very attractive investment destination for us," said Stand Lin (林金標), general manager of the garment division of Tuntex Inc.

He also identified other incentives for Taiwanese investors, including five-year free of sales and income tax, low rents for leasing land for factories and easily trained labor. Tuntex Inc pays only US$16 for per 15,000 square meters on a 50-year lease.

The company exported all of its production -- such as polo shirts -- to the US and Europe, he said.

Lin acknowledged that the development of some textile-related industries still requires the company to rely on imports of materials from Asia.

Tuntex Inc plans to expand its operations in Swaziland to include weaving and dying by 2006, hoping to reach revenue from garments of US$830 million and to eventually employ 9,000 workers.

Swaziland has a population of one million, with annual export growth of 17 percent. The GDP growth from 1990 to 1997 was an average 2 percent per year.

The current foreign investment is mainly from commonwealth nations, according to the official Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority (SIPA).

Bhekie R.Dlamini, chief executive officer at SIPA, said the country hopes to further exploit it targets natural resources, such as sugar, agricultural and forestry products, and tourism for further foreign investment. Labor-intensive manufacturing, he added, is also a key target for upgrading.

Dlamini also said his country hopes to attract leather and toy manufacturing and agricultural processing industries.

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