Thu, Dec 19, 2002 - Page 11 News List

Business briefs

Vietnam first for investment

Taiwan's investment in the major countries of Southeast Asia in the first half of this year totaled US$185.27 million, with Vietnam attracting US$131.5 million, according to government statistics released yesterday.

The statistics compiled by the Industrial Development and Investment Center of the Ministry of Economic Affairs indicate that Thailand came next with US$18.86 million, followed by Malaysia with US$15.41 million.

In terms of aggregate investment from Taiwan, however, Indonesia leads the list with US$12.88 billion, followed by Thailand with US$10.52 billion and Malaysia with US$9.2 billion.

Taiwan has recently adopted a "go south" policy to encourage enterprises to switch their investments from mainland China to Southeast Asia, but the policy suffered a major setback recently when President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was forced to cancel a plan to visit Indonesia Dec. 15-17 to promote the policy. The incident might prompt Taipei to reconsider its "go south" policy, according to observers.

Opposition afraid of SOEs' debts

Several opposition legislators expressed worry yesterday about the debts of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), saying that the collective debts of the enterprises is as high as NT$17.3 trillion (US$494.28 billion), or more than 82 percent of their total assets.

Independent Legislator Sisy Chen (陳文茜) said that because of their poor financial states, the enterprises would be on the verge of collapse if they were not being bolstered by the government.

She suggested the government consider setting up a fund to write off the companies' debts.

Other legislators including Wang Chung-yu (王鍾渝), Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) and Pong Chien-kuo (龐建國), said that of the 34 state-owned enterprises, the long-term debts of eight exceed the paid-in capital. Even Taiwan

Power Co's (台電) long-term debt is twice its paid-in capital. Kaohsiung Ammonium Sulfate Corp's (高雄硫酸錏) debt accounts for 82.63 percent of its paid-in capital.

Flat-panel shipments fall

Shipments of flat-panel displays for computer monitors and televisions by companies such as Samsung Electronics Co fell 8 percent in the third quarter because PC makers had excess inventory, a market researcher said.

The drop in shipments, which totaled 16.2 million units, was the steepest of the three quarter-on-quarter declines recorded in the last three years, said researcher DisplaySearch.

Compared with the third quarter last year, shipments rose 40 percent.

The weak demand for monitors and excess manufacturing capacity at makers of flat panels resulted in a price decline of 5 percent on average, compared with a 13 percent increase in the second quarter.

For the fourth quarter, prices may fall an additional 19 percent, which should stimulate demand and result in shipments increasing 12 percent, DisplaySearch predicted. Prices may stabilize in the first quarter.

NT dollar weakens

The NT dollar weakened after Standard & Poor's cut the nation's debt rating by one level, citing the government's "slow pace'' in carrying out banking and fiscal reforms.

The S&P rating cut "means the New Taiwan dollar may not be able to strengthen in coming days," said Tom Chou, a currency trader at the Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合作金庫).

The local currency fell NT$0.063 against its US counterpart to close at NT$34.848. Turnover was US$450.5 million, compared with the previous day's US$397 million.

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