Taiwan must be more open: BCCT

Staff Writer, with CNA

Tue, May 10, 2011 - Page 11

The government should focus on the diverse needs of foreign companies if it wants to attract more investment and commercial opportunities, British Chamber of Commerce Taipei (BCCT) Chairman Peter Crowhurst said.

“The employment environment in Taiwan is not especially unusual throughout Asia. Japan and South Korea are just as restricted, but it is often far easier to work in China, Singapore or Hong Kong,” Crowhurst said at a recent meeting of the Taiwan Britain Business Council in Taipei.

“It is no surprise to see those particular countries and territories — Singapore and Hong Kong — are more open to foreign talent and have more internationally diverse and dynamic GDP and societies,” he said. “Singapore is an excellent example of a small country that recognized relatively recently the need to distinguish itself from other cheap manufacturing hubs with the development of tourism, services and creative industries.”

The BCCT urges Taiwan to pursue diversity in its workforce now that the nation has excellent places to work, a dynamic economy and a caring community, Crowhurst said.

He added that the food and restaurant business could be one of the key economic drivers in future UK-Taiwan investment, citing the recent opening of a Taiwanese-style bubble tea shop in London that has been a big hit with both locals and tourists.

The Bubbleology tea shop, which opened on April 21, sells an average of 500 cups of bubble tea a day and up to 1,000 on weekends, with people lining up for as long as 45 minutes to give the beverage a try.

The UK’s exports to the Asia-Pacific region last year were up 25 percent from 2009, while exports to Taiwan rose 40 percent, making Taiwan one of the UK’s fastest-growing export markets not only in Asia, but the world, said the British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO), the UK’s de facto representative office in Taiwan.

BTCO Director David Campbell said at the meeting that some British companies have chosen Taiwan as their business hub in the Asia-Pacific region and established new offices here.

Taiwanese companies are also expanding their interests in Britain, Campbell said.

HTC Corp (宏達電) is set to expand its staff in the UK after acquiring London-based digital content provider Saffron Digital Ltd for £30 million (NT$1.4 billion) to add content to its products.