Fri, Sep 05, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

Lehman Brothers optimistic

The global investment bank Leh-man Brothers yesterday said that Taiwan's financial markets are strong. According to "Damocles," the bank's early warning system to identify the likelihood of countries entering financial crises, Taiwan enjoys a low rating of nine.

The bank reasons that the country has record-high forex reserves that are equal to 17 months of import cover and its current account surplus is almost 10 percent of GDP. It also has very little external debt and its exchange rate is very competitive. While Taiwan is forging increasingly closer ties with China, any risk to its economy would likely be tied to Taipei-Beijing relations, the bank said.

"Taiwan is benefiting more than any other country in Asia from China's rapidly growing and opening economy," Rob Subbaraman, the bank's senior economist for Asia said yesterday in a statement.

Asia overall has notably reduced the risk of crisis across the region since its 1997 to 1998 currency crisis, the bank noted, adding that "there are growing signs that global capital is now returning to Asia," and that the region "is in a much better condition to weather future financial storms."

Nanotechnology promising

The nation's nanotechnology industry is promising and its annual output is expected to top the NT$1 trillion (US$29.2 billion) mark by 2010, an expert said yesterday.

Tsai Ping-ping (蔡嬪嬪), manager of the Nanotechnology Re-search and Development Center under the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院), said the government has implemented a five-year nanotechnology development plan (from this year to 2008) with a total investment of NT$21.5 billion.

At least 70 companies are engaged in the research and development of nanotechnology-related products, including semiconductors, nano-materials, IC boards, flat displays, optoelectronics, electrical appliances, textiles and biotechnology, she said.

Several institutions are engaged in nanotechnology research, including the ITRI, the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technol-ogy and the Plastic Research Center, Tsai said.

She predicted that the annual output of the global nanotechnology industry will reach US$1 trillion in 2010, by which time Taiwan will have obtained a 3 percent share of the global market.

Russian venture ships crude

Royal Dutch/Shell Group said a US$10 billion Sakhalin-2 project in Russia's Far East shipped its first crude oil to Taiwan as the venture expands supplies to customers in the Pacific and Asia.

Sakhalin Energy Investment Co, in which Shell owns 55 percent, loaded 720,000 barrels of crude into a tanker this week, which was bought by Chinese Petroleum Corp (中油), the company said in a statement. The cargo will arrive on Sept. 9.

Joint oil search resumes

Chinese Petroleum Corp (中油) and the PRC's China National Offshore Oil Corp (中國海洋石油), resumed a joint search for oil in the Tainan Basin after a delay caused by the SARS epidemic.

"Drilling of the first exploratory well should start sometime in the middle of this month," said Liao Tsang-long (廖滄龍), a spoke-sman for Chinese Petroleum.

The companies said in January they won government approval to explore the Tainan Basin.

In May last year, the two companies agreed to spend a combined US$25 million looking for oil and gas in the Tainan Basin, an area of 15,400km2.

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