Appeal made to private sector
Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) yesterday urged the private sector to play a positive role in government-led international trade talks.
While the opinions of commercial and industrial groups and non-governmental organizations have proved influential in WTO talks, the government also needs the support of the commercial and industrial sectors when negotiating on free-trade agreements with other countries, Chen said.
In the past, Taiwanese businessmen generally thought international trade talks were the government's business and seldom participated.
But Chen said the participation of the business community is very important to ensure that international trade regulations and measures adopted by the government are practical.
Mutual funds may list in HK
Taiwan's mutual funds may be able to list on Hong Kong's stock exchange to raise funds there, a Chinese-language newspaper reported, citing Financial Supervisory Commission chairman Kong Jaw-sheng (龔照勝).
Kong met Hong Kong regulators this week, who showed interest in Taiwan's mutual funds, the paper said. Hong Kong regulators agreed to attend an emerging market seminar in Taipei on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25, where the issue may be further discussed, it said.
The government allows overseas mutual funds to be sold locally, but Taiwan's mutual funds are unable to sell their products overseas, the paper said, citing Kong. Kong also hopes to approach Singapore about selling Taiwan mutual funds there, the paper said.
SMIC cuts target
Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際集成電路), China's biggest supplier of made-to-order chips, cut its production-capacity target this year by as much as 24 percent, reducing capital expenditure in response to slowing demand.
The company expects to be able to make between 140,000 and 155,000 wafers a month by the end of this year, from an earlier forecast of 185,000, company president Richard Chang said in a briefing at the Shanghai-based company's headquarters.
"We expect the first quarter to be very hard for the whole industry and growth is likely to be flat for the year," Chang said.
Semiconductor Manufacturing, whose customers include Samsung Electronics Co and Infineon Technologies AG, plans to reduce equipment spending to US$1 billion this year, from an earlier forecast of US$1.37 billion, Chang said.
Real estate outlets hit new high
The number of real-estate agencies totaled 1,217 at the end of last year -- the largest number in six years -- Evertrust Rehouse Co (永慶房屋) reported on Thursday. The figure represents a 41-percent increase over the 2003 level, statistics compiled by the company show.
A total of 378 new agencies -- including 325 in northern Taipei County -- were opened last year, double the previous year's level.
Taipei County also had the largest number of real-estate agencies last year, followed by Taipei City and Kaohsiung City. Some 86,000 deals were made in Taipei County alone in the first 11 months of the year, which was 23 percent of the country's total.
Evertrust Rehouse attributed the marked growth to the improved traffic infrastructure and the government's preferential-loan policy and other incentives to buyers.
NT dollar drops
The New Taiwan dollar yesterday traded NT$0.151 lower against its US counterpart, closing at NT$32.019 on the Taipei foreign exchange market.