Sat, May 17, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Government action is needed to ensure competitiveness

By Bill Heaney  /  STAFF REPORTER

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) urged the nation's leaders yesterday to implement urgent economic reforms or run the risk of marginalizing Taiwan in the global economy, the chamber said in a statement yesterday.

The statement refers to the group's annual report, the Taiwan White Paper, highlighting six major areas of concern such as government interference in hiring decisions, infrastructure improvements, health-care services, financial reforms, the protection of intellectual property and the ongoing war on corruption.

AmCham will deliver this year's full Taiwan White Paper to government officials on Tuesday.

"AmCham believes that urgent attention to those areas will enable Taiwan to reverse the current trend toward economic marginalization and put Taiwan back on the map as an attractive destination for investment," the chamber said.

Wagging a finger in the face of Taiwan's leaders, AmCham complained that the government spent too much time on "economic micromanaging" to the detriment of the nation's attractiveness as an investment destination.

Instead, it said the government should focus its energy on facilitating business development.

Sounding a conciliatory note, the chamber highlighted Taiwan's strengths, before slamming the government one more time.

"AmCham continues to believe that Taiwan has the potential to be a prime location from which both foreign and domestic business can conduct R&D, production, distribution, and sales activities domestically, regionally, and globally," the statement said.

"But success will require swift government action to remove barriers to full foreign participation in the domestic economy and to strengthen Taiwan's economic integration with worldwide markets, including those in China," it said.

The criticism comes as foreign investors abandon Taiwan. Last year foreign direct investment fell 36 percent from its 2001 levels to US$3.27 billion. The news remains gloomy for the first quarter of this year, as investments fell a further 21 percent compared to the same period last year to scrape past US$600 million.

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