■ Chip cards widely accepted
More than 90 percent of the nation's 16,000 automated-teller machines (ATMs) have been upgraded to accept chip-embedded cards as of the end of last month, the Financial Supervisory Com-mission said yesterday in a statement.
Banks recently started to notify customers to renew their cards in an attempt to have all magnetic cards changed to chip-embedded cards by the year's end.
More than 60 million magnetic cards are in circulation, among which about 20 million are currently valid and used.
■ Tourist arrivals rebound 44%
The number of tourist arrivals reached 1.39 million in the year's first half, up 44.6 percent from the same period last year, the Direc-torate General of Budget, Account-ing and Statistics said yesterday.
Officials ascribed the increase to the fact that the number of tourist arrivals during the first half of 2003 was relatively low due to a SARS outbreak.
Japan remained the largest tourist source for the January-June period, with Japanese making 380,000 visits, a 17.4 percent increase from the year-earlier level.
Hong Kong and Macau residents made 201,000 visits during the same period, for a 55.5 percent increase, while Americans made 192,000 visits for an 86.3 percent growth rate.
■ EPZ workers on upswing
The number of workers employed in the five economic processing zones (EPZs) recently topped 71,000, the highest level in five years, an Economic Processing Zone Administration spokesman said yesterday in Kaohsiung.
The number of workers employed by the companies operating in the five EPZs accounts for 3.08 percent of the total number of workers in the manufacturing sector.
The official predicted that the number will continue to grow as a result of the rebounding economy, which is set to create a larger number of job opportunities. The number of jobs hit a record high of over 90,000 in 1987.
Of the five EPZs, the Kaohsiung Export Processing Zone in Nantze district employs the most workers with 39,590.
■ AKT opens R&D center
AKT Co, a US-based TFT-LCD equipment manufacturer, on Tuesday opened an Asia-Pacific R&D center in Taiwan.
Speaking at the ceremony, AKT president Wendell Blonigan said that the R&D center will cooperate with the Industrial Technology Research Institute and the Aero Industry Development Corp to boost the development of flat-panel displays.
In the initial stage, the R&D center will be staffed by senior researchers from the AKT head office who will carry out R&D projects in cooperation with Taiwan experts, Blonigan said.
■ Bullock to lead BritCham
The British Chamber of Com-merce in Taipei (BritCham) yesterday announced its appointment of Alistair Bullock, head of Standard Chartered Bank Taiwan, as its new chairman. The appointment takes effect immediately.
A former chairman of Brit-Cham in China, Bullock's extensive experience and knowledge would be invaluable assets to the chamber, executive director Ting Lee said in a statement.
■ NT dollar continues fall
The New Taiwan dollar yesterday continued losing ground against its US counterpart, declining NT$0.011 to close at NT$33.946 against the greenback on the Taipei foreign exchange market.
Turnover was US$394 million.