Wed, Apr 04, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Czech Republic touted as EU gateway

FOOTHOLD A stable environment, skilled labor force and strategic location make the Czech Republic an ideal springboard for Taiwanese firms, trade officials said

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwanese companies are welcome to pump more investment dollars into the Czech Republic, which will serve as a springboard to the massive European market.

This was the message officials conveyed yesterday at a briefing for companies and the media on the investment ambience in the Czech Republic.

"Trade and business cooperation between the Czech Republic and Taiwan, especially in the field of IT, has been significantly enhanced in the last few years," said Jaroslav Dolecek, a representative of the Czech Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei.

He said that factors including the stable economic and political environment, highly skilled labor force and central location within the EU market were attracting Taiwanese companies to the republic.

Fifteen Taiwanese firms currently have investments in the Czech Republic, the culture office's figures show.

The list includes Foxconn International Holdings (富士康), the handset unit of Taiwan's largest manufacturer of electronics parts Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), which is now the Czech Republic's second-biggest exporter.

Other Taiwanese investors include Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦), BenQ Corp (明基), Acer Inc, Tatung Co (大同) and Gigabyte Technology Corp (技嘉科技).

Thanks to Taiwanese companies, which manufacture 90 percent of all computers built in the Czech Republic, the country has become the biggest producer of notebooks in the EU, Dolecek said.

He was supported by Roger Liao (廖志容), vice director of the Taiwan Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers' Association (電電公會), the nation's largest industrial association, which represents more than 3,800 firms.

"The Czech Republic is especially suited to investment by Taiwanese IT companies. It could well serve as a springboard for us to gain a foothold in the EU's 27 member countries," Liao said.

They suggested that firms hoping to gain a better understanding of the Czech Republic and the eastern European market sign up for a two-in-one exposition to be held in Brno, the Czech Republic's second-largest city, from Oct. 23 to Oct. 27.

The shows -- the 17th International Fair of Information and Communication Technologies, and Third International Fair of Consumer Electronics and Digital Entertainment -- attracted 564 exhibitors and 104,117 visitors last year. Nineteen Taiwanese and 10 Chinese exhibitors, as well as a handful from Singapore, South Korea and Japan, attended last year's show.

See Power Inc (視能), which produces audio and visual products including MP3 players, digital photo frames and liquid-crystal-display advertising displays, is one of the local companies hoping to gain exposure at the expo.

"It is hard to break into eastern Europe, as most companies that have a say on sale channels always come from western Europe," said Fiona Tao (陶芳芳), sales manager at See Power.

Western Europe contributes more than 50 percent of the company's revenues.

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