■ Park meets orchid boom
Growing demand for orchids in Europe is contributing to Taiwan's booming orchid industry, with a biotech park in Tainan County devoted to orchid research and development already fully booked after the completion of the project's first stage. Lee Tsang-yu (李蒼裕), deputy director of the orchid biotech park -- the Taiwan Orchid Plantation -- told reporters yesterday that demand for orchids in Europe is expected to increase from last year's 30 million to 50 million this year, mostly thanks to promotional efforts by floriculturists in the Netherlands. It is estimated that the park's total orchid sales could reach NT$400 million (US$12.58 million) a year, accounting for one-third of Taiwan's orchid exports. Orchid exports account for 50 percent of the total value of Taiwan's flower exports.
■ Debt mechanism doing well
The nation's consumer debt negotiation mechanism had received 153,198 applications as of May 12, including 130,500 successfully negotiated cases that represent NT$200.8 billion (US$6.31 billion) worth of bad debt, the Financial Supervisory Commission said yesterday. "We have seen a deceleration in the number of applications, which could indicate that the issue of consumer bad loans is now under control," commission spokeswoman Susan Chang (張秀蓮) said. The negotiation system was initiated at the beginning of this year, with the aim of bailing out around 500,000 indebted credit and cash cardholders while sorting out consumer bad loans estimated to exceed NT$200 billion.
■ HannStar does patent deal
HannStar Display Corp (瀚宇彩晶), a leading liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panel maker, has obtained the right to make better quality panels using patents owned by Honeywell International Inc, making it the third Taiwanese LCD panel maker to use Honeywell patents, following AU Optronics Corp (友達光電) and Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子). By signing the agreement, HannStar aims to maintain its LCD panel manufacturing position and avoid disputes over intellectual property rights, the company said in a statement released yesterday. Honeywell's patented technology increases the brightness of images and reduces interference of moire effects, it added.
■ Taiwan to lead iPod sector
Taiwanese and Chinese manufacturers are set to produce more than US$104 million worth of Apple's iPod digital music players and related audio accessories this year, a study said yesterday. The figure will represent an increase of 37 percent from last year, according to Global Sources Ltd, a US-based business-to-business media company which carried out the survey. The report forecast that Taiwan's production will make up the bulk of production value at US$71 million, while the remaining US$33 million will be generated by their Chinese counterparts.
■ NT falls against the greenback
The New Taiwan dollar shed markedly by NT$0.172 to close at NT$31.82 against the greenback yesterday on the Taipei foreign exchange market because of a rebounding US dollar and heavy selling of the local currency by foreign investors. A moderately rising Chinese yuan has little impact on the NT dollar as long as the local currency hovers around NT$31.5 and NT$33.5 to the US dollar, Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (電電公會) chairman Rock Hsu (許勝雄) said yesterday. Hsu made the remarks on Monday after the yuan climbed beyond 8 to the US dollar for the first time in 12 years.