Sat, Mar 16, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Group calls for flexible energy policy

ATTRACTING INVESTMENT:The CNAIC chairman said that he also supported Han Kuo-yu’s plan to set up free economic pilot zones with favorable tax terms

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The government should be more flexible with its energy policy, as the potential of an electricity shortage sits on top of the list of concerns local companies have when they make investment decisions, a trade group said yesterday.

Policymakers should place more effort on creating a friendly business environment, which carries more importance than incentives for prospective investors, Mobiletron Electronics Co (車王電子) chairman and chief executive officer Kim Tsai (蔡裕慶) said on the sidelines of a Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (CNAIC) gathering.

Mobiletron, which specializes in designing and manufacturing vehicle charging systems, on Thursday gained approval from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to move its manufacturing facility from China to Taiwan to avoid heavy tariffs imposed by Washington.

The investment of NT$2.5 billion (US$80.9 million) is an example of capital being repatriated by local companies based in China that are affected by US-China trade tensions.

Repatriation of capital would happen faster if the government did not limit investment to the “five plus two” sectors, smart manufacturing or tariff victims, Tsai said.

Technology has reshaped industry and smart manufacturing of shoes and other non-technology products is fashionable these days, he said.

Stable electricity supply is a key gauge of business friendliness, he added.

Firms by and large are worried about an electricity shortage and expensive energy costs, because the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government still plans to retire the nation’s nuclear power plants in the long term, CNAIC deputy secretary-general Chiu Yi-cheh (邱一轍) said.

Manufacturing activity requires a stable and affordable electricity supply, but tight supply casts a shadow on the industry as summer approaches, Chiu said.

Taiwan and Germany are the only two nations in the world that have declared a plan to abolish nuclear power, CNAIC said.

The trade group said it is not against the development of renewable energy sources, but urged the government to push back the nuclear-free schedule until alternative energy sources become sufficient and affordable.

Separately, CNAIC chairman Lin Por-fong (林伯豐) also lent support to Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) idea to set up free economic pilot zones, saying the move would help Taiwan remain competitive on the world stage, despite its lack of free-trade agreements with other countries.

Free economic zones with favorable tax terms would allow Taiwan to attract as much investment from local and foreign firms as free-trade agreements do, Lin said.

However, the National Development Council issued a statement, saying that free economic pilot zones are undesirable and impractical, as they result in unfair taxation and hurt local industry.

The council also cited Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) as saying that free economic zones would allow Chinese companies to manufacture their products in Taiwan and escape US tariffs, which could harm Taiwan’s interests amid the ongoing trade disputes between China and the US.

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