Tue, Dec 28, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Indonesian assets safe from waves

TSUNAMI DAMAGE Most Taiwanese businesses in the country are located far from areas affected by the tsunamis, and were not damaged in the calamity

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwanese companies with factories in Indonesia said yesterday that no serious damage resulted from the Sunday earthquake and tsunamis that caused over 23,000 deaths in southeastern Asia.

"The strong Indonesian earthquake only caused very minor damage to Taiwanese companies with branches there, as local businessmen have few business activities in the affected areas," the government said yesterday in a statement released after an initial survey.

Most factories owned by Taiwanese enterprises are located on the island of Java, which is 1600km away from the epicenter of Sunday's 8.9-magnitude quake on the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, according to the Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT), under the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

"Fortunately, our motor plants are not located around the affected areas. Operations there remain normal," Amy Chen (陳逸潔), spokeswoman of the world's No.2 motor maker TECO Electric and Machinery Co (東元電機), told the Taipei Times yesterday in a phone interview.

Shoemaker Pou Chen Corp (寶成), which makes sneakers for the world's top athletic sneaker brand Nike Inc, also said in a statement that its Indonesian operations were intact as its factories are located on the island of Java.

Indonesia is the favorite Southeast Asian investment destination for Taiwanese entre-preneurs, who had invested around US$12.97 billion there as of September this year, according to government statistics.

In addition, state-run Chinese Petroleum Corp (中油) said oil and gas supplies from Indonesia's state-owned Pertamina will not be disrupted as the exports do not come from any ports in the oil-rich province of Aceh on northern Sumatra, according to the BOFT statement.

In light of anticipated minor impact on local companies, Wu Rong-I (吳榮義), president of a local private think tank Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (台經院), does not expect the incident to adversely Taiwan's exports, either.

"As most plants owned by Taiwanese businessmen are located in the hinterland rather than the quake-affected coastal areas, I believe the impact on those firms and thereby Taiwan's economy will be small," Wu said.

Local companies with operations in Thailand were affected relatively more by the tsunamis that swept Thailand's southern islands including the tourist island of Phuket, according to the government's statement.

But losses were small, at around 40 million baht (US$1.03 million), it said.

The some 30 affected companies are those operating fishing farms, fish processing factories or restaurants, the statement said.

Aside from Thailand, no injuries or damage were reported from Taiwanese companies located in neighboring regions, including Bangladesh, Singapore, Mal-aysia and the Philippines, according to the government's initial survey.

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