Wed, Mar 20, 2002 - Page 17 News List

Procurement flight reports said to be highly exaggerated

By Dan Nystedt  /  STAFF REPORTER

Foreign companies in Taiwan say local media reports of their imminent departure for Shanghai are greatly exaggerated and that the nation's most recent case of China fever is likely fueling such talk.

Chinese-language media reported yesterday that a slew of foreign purchasers of Taiwanese high-tech hardware products were planning to move their International Procurement Offices (IPOs) to China, adding that it was just the latest sign of a hollowing out of Taiwan's economy.

Not so, representatives from three of the top spenders -- Fujitsu Ltd, Compaq Computer Taiwan Ltd and Hewlett-Packard Co -- told the Taipei Times yesterday.

Indeed Taiwan still has key structural and governmental advantages China lacks, and most foreign firms plan to stay here for the time being, they said.

To the contrary, Fujitsu, the Japanese electronics giant, has plans to announce a major new spending package in Taipei today.

"We don't have any new plans to move. Our Asia-Pacific procurement office will remain in Taiwan for the time being," said Tannia Liu (劉熙玲), a spokesperson for the procurement office at Compaq.

Liu said Compaq spent US$9 billion in Taiwan last year, less than previously reported but far more than any other tech industry multinational.

Hewlett-Packard also plans to remain in Taiwan for the foreseeable future. The company spent US$5.7 billion on tech hardware in Taiwan last year and said the nation still has a lot of advantages over China.

Local media have placed a lot of attention on speculation as to when H-P and other foreign firms are going to move their procurement offices to China and "this has been a big point for them over the past two or three years," said Nancy Liu, public relations manager at H-P Taiwan.

The US-based computer giant says it currently has no plans to move.

"A lot of media have asked us, 'won't the amount of money you spend in Taiwan drop every year?' Or they say, 'you're going to move your main office to Shanghai or Hong Kong too, aren't you'."

H-P's international procurement office still sees a lot of value in Taiwan due to its well developed infrastructure and governmental services, Liu said, citing strong delivery services, shipping, customs clearance work and a streamlined tax system in Taiwan.

Compaq and H-P, along with Apple Computer Inc, Dell Computer Corp, and International Business Machines Corp, were the top five foreign purchasers of Taiwanese high-tech products last year, buying a combined US$25 billion worth of goods.

Dell is the only one among top procurers to move its main office to Hong Kong, which it said was necessary because of a lack of direct transportation links between Taiwan and China.

Apple Computer Inc's Taiwan office could not be reached for comment on this report.

IBM has no plans to move its procurement operations out of Nankang, a Taipei suburb, according to Hsu Ya-ping, a press relations officer at the company.

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