Mon, Jan 12, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan SMEs rank third-highest in pessimism survey

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

The nation’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are third on a list of the most pessimistic regional companies regarding future economic prospects, next to those in HSBC’s (匯豐銀行) bi-annual survey found on Friday.

About 65 percent of Taiwanese SMEs polled in the survey said they expected the local economy to deteriorate in the next six months, compared to 18 percent in the last survey, conducted six months ago, the bank’s press statement said.

SMEs in Hong Kong are the most pessimistic with 87 percent of them anticipating a deteriorating economy in the first quarter of this year while 82 percent of small businesses in Singapore also believed so, the statement said.

The survey further found that 51 percent of Taiwanese SMEs planned to cut costs to weather the current recession, while only a meager 11 percent of respondents, down from 28 percent a year earlier, may put down investments.

In spite of slow business, as many as 87 percent of Taiwanese SMEs said they had no plans to lay off employees, while another 6 percent said they may downsize, the bank’s survey showed.

Similarly, 66 percent of SMEs in Hong Kong and 69 percent of those in South Korea said they would also cut costs, but few said they would begin to fire employees.

Only 7 percent of SMEs in Hong Kong said they would lay off staff, the survey showed.

In contrast, SMEs from Bangladesh and Vietnam were the most optimistic about future economic growth.

Around 80 percent of Bangladeshi SMEs were expecting trade to grow, while 46 percent of Vietnamese SMEs believed trade with China would be on the rise.

Meanwhile, Taiwan ranked fifth in the world in terms of its overall investment environment, the latest survey by the US-based Business Environment Risk Intelligence company said.

In the company’s third survey for last year released on Dec. 1, Taiwan’s rating remained the same as in the previous survey in August, although the country’s profit opportunity recommendation scores dropped by one point to 72, a press release posted on Saturday on the Ministry of Economic Affairs Web site said.

The top four countries in the survey of 50 major states worldwide were Switzerland, Singapore, the Netherlands and Norway.

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