■ New service to help exports
The Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday launched a new service that assists local manufacturers of electrical and electronic products to build a "green supply chain" to help them smooth the way for exports to Europe, which will implement stricter environmental protection rules in July next year. The new rules include the EU's Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment released on February 2003, and the Directive on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment. The affected substances include cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, mercury, and two anti-flame materials -- polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Minister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) said she expected the new service would allow the nation's manufacturers to proudly say in international markets that "Taiwan exports are free of problems." Taiwan exported NT$240 billion (US$7.6 billion) in electrical and electronic goods to Europe last year, the ministry said.
■ Chip firm secures loan
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufact-uring Co (台積電) has succeeded in having Bank of America Securities Asia Ltd arrange a US$200 million, five-year loan for its unit in Shanghai, the International Financing Review reported. It was the company's first syndicated loan since December 2000, when it raised US$200 million, the report said, without identifying where it obtained the information. Hsinchu-based Taiwan Semiconductor is the world's largest supplier of made-to-order computer chips.
■ Travel agents getting excited
Travel agencies in Shanghai are rolling up their sleeves in preparation for the opportunities presented by Beijing's recent decision to allow Chinese nationals to visit Taiwan for sightseeing and leisure purposes. A number of tourist agencies from Shanghai are scheduled to visit Taiwan early next month for a week-long stay, during which they will "sample" Taiwan's tourist attractions for potential Chinese holidaymakers, said Chang Tai-sheng, the executive director of the Shanghai-based Taiwan Leisure Trip Association. Chang said that his association was organizing a full tour of the island for the travel agents to allow them to gain a better understanding of tourist attractions and places that Chinese tourists may be interested in visiting. In response to Beijing's relaxed policy, Taiwan is planning to allow as many as 1,000 Chinese tourists to enter Taiwan per day for stays of up to 10 days.
■ Report `out of context'
Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信), the nation's third-biggest mobile-phone operator by subscribers, said a newspaper report stating that Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc may raise its stake to 15 percent from 4.9 percent in the company was "misleading." The report cited Far EasTone chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東). Hsu could not be reached by phone or e-mail for immediate comment. "The news report is misleading and totally out of context," Far EasTone spokeswoman Yvonne Lan (藍綺萍) said in a telephone interview from Taipei. "We've heard of no details that can confirm the report," DoCoMo spokesman Masanori Goto said from Tokyo. "We have no plans now of raising our stake."
■ NT dollar declines
The New Taiwan dollar declined against the US dollar on the Taipei Foreign Exchange yesterday, losing NT$0.088 to close at NT$31.407. A total of US$700 million changed hands during the trading session.