The unblinding of phase 3 trial data of SynCore Biotechnology Co Ltd’s (杏國新藥) newly developed pancreatic cancer drug SB05PC showed no statistical significance when compared with the control group, the drugmaker said yesterday. SB05PC is designed to prolong patients’ lives, and the trial ended once all participants had passed away, the company said. The trials tested whether people taking the drug would on average live significantly longer than those in the control group, it added. The trials tested for overall survival time — the time the patient survives from the beginning of treatment — and progression-free survival time — the time the patient’s cancer does not worsen from the beginning of treatment, it said. The median overall survival time for the 108 participants treated with SB05PC was 226 days, while their median progression-free survival time was 113 days. Meanwhile, the median overall survival time of the 100 patients in the control group was 209 days, while their median progression-free survival time was 110 days, the drugmaker said. “The difference between the two groups was not statistically significant,” Tim Lee (李志文), chairman of the drugmaker’s parent company Sinphar Pharmaceutical Co Ltd (杏輝醫藥), told a news conference in Taipei. Other secondary gauges, such as disease control rate, objective response, rate and duration of response also did not show statistical significance, the company said. The disease control rate averaged 59.38 percent in the treatment group, compared with 48.86 percent in the control group; the objective response rate was 11.46 percent in the treatment group, compared with 6.82 percent in the control group; and response to the drug averaged 4.1 months in the treatment group, compared with 5.6 months in the control group, it said. SB05PC was developed as a second-line treatment to be combined with chemotherapy drug gemcitabine for patients who do not respond well to first-line drug Folfirinox, SynCore said. Trail participants
Production at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp’s (TSMC, 台積電) fabs was not affected by a fire at a construction site for a water recycling facility in the Southern Taiwan Science Park in Tainan. The world’s biggest contract chipmaker said that the construction site is not adjacent to its fabs, which were unaffected. CTCI Corp (中鼎工程) is responsible for the construction of the facility, which it is to operate itself once it is completed, the chipmaker said. The facility caught fire at about 11am, and the blaze was brought under control about 30 minutes after the incident was reported, the Southern Taiwan Science Park Administration said in a statement. The construction was suspended and about 200 workers were evacuated from the site, it said, adding that no casualties were reported. The local fire department is investigating the cause of the fire, the park administration said. The facility is scheduled to start operation in December, the administration said, without elaborating on whether the fire would affect the schedule. The facility is to supply TSMC with about 10,000 tonnes of recycled water per day, it said. Tainan is one of TSMC’s major manufacturing sites for advanced chips, using 5-nanometer technology, as well as 3-nanometer technology, to be introduced in the second half of next year.
The Taiwanese offshore wind industry employs more women than the sector in other countries, especially in senior roles, a study commissioned by the British Chamber of Commerce in Taipei showed. The report, released on Wednesday, showed that 95 percent of offshore wind companies in Taiwan employed female managers, while 60 percent had at least one woman in a director-level role. While female workforce participation in the global offshore wind energy sector is as low as 21 percent, with an even lower average of 15 percent in Asia, women make up 26 percent of employees in Taiwan, the report said. Among firms operating in Taiwan, developers employed the highest number of female directors, it said. Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners K/S new markets development director Maya Malik said that when she moved to Taiwan, she noticed the relatively high number of women working in the sector, including in senior roles. With her observation, she approached the business group and suggested the study, she said, adding that the report validated her impression. “Globally the offshore wind industry even lags behind oil and gas when it comes to female participation, but here in Taiwan, there are indeed more women as we have noticed,” Malik told an event in Taipei to reveal the findings. “This is very high compared to other countries, with strong acceptance for women as leaders, especially for the region.” However, the report also highlighted two factors that limit female participation in the sector: the relatively low number of women studying in field related to science, technology, engineering or mathematics; and the expectation that women adopt the role of wife and mother, and bear the brunt of domestic duties, which might lead them to leave the workforce. The report recommended that companies support female employees who wish to have children, and offer them more flexible working hours,
Travel e-commerce platform KKday yesterday launched a new Web site — KKday stores — as it aims to partner with local tour and accommodation providers to promote in-depth tour experiences across the nation. The new platform is expected to feature offerings by up to 10,000 local partners, KKday said. The partners would be able to launch their products on the platform, which would boost independent tourism, it said. The platform would in the first phase target planners and providers of educational travel experiences, as well as outdoor activities, it said, adding that it set this focus because many people are concerned about the risk of contracting COVID-19 while traveling and health authorities continue to discourage social gatherings. The recovery of domestic tourism reached 70 to 80 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels in the first quarter, before a domestic outbreak in May required the imposition of a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert. Travel activity is expected to regain momentum after locally transmitted infections dwindled and the government issued the Quintuple Stimulus Vouchers, analysts have said. KKday said that the new platform would help businesses create packages, coordinate activities, integrate their offerings and conduct promotion campaigns. The platform would also help them operate more efficiently, it added. KKday stores is launched as in-depth travel — with people staying at a destination longer to appreciate it deeper — gains traction, KKday said, adding that it expects the platform to grow in the short term.
DIVERSIFYING BASES: A separate investment in a subsidiary in China was also approved, which the authorities said poses no technology leakage risk
LCD panelmaker AU Optronics Corp (AUO, 友達光電) is planning to invest NT$91.08 billion (US$3.26 million) over the next few years to expand its capacity to domestically produce panels used in premium notebook computers, the Hsinchu-based company said on Tuesday. The investment would be part of the company’s efforts to boost production resilience and safeguard market share, AUO said in a statement. It aims to increase capacity at its 8.5-generation and 6-generation plants in Taichung, and produce more panels with advanced hyper viewing angle technology to satisfy prospective rising demand in the post-COVID-19 era, it said. AUO also plans to spend NT$10 billion a year on the development of cutting-edge technologies and the enhancement of manufacturing capabilities, it said. The panel maker has about 20,000 employees nationwide and is planning to create 2,700 new jobs, according to its four-year investment plan. AUO also plans to expand panel manufacturing capacity in China to make low-temperature-poly-silicon panels (LTPS) used in high-end notebook computers, it said. The company last quarter commanded about 60 to 70 percent of the world’s LTPS panel market, it said. AUO on Tuesday received approval from the Investment Commission to invest US$617 million in its Chinese subsidiary in Kunshan, which would allow it to fully take over the subsidiary, of which it currently owns 51 percent, it said. The commission also approved another US$384 million investment in the subsidiary, which would be used to expand the unit’s output to 47,000 units per month, it said. “Given that the planned investment in Taiwan clearly exceeds the investment in China, we decided to approve AUO’s investment there,” the commission said. “As the Chinese subsidiary would handle simple manufacturing, we estimate that the risk of technology leakage is minimal.” The commission also approved a China-bound investment of US$115 million by KGI Bank (凱基銀行), a subsidiary of China Development Financial Holding Corp
Tatung Co (大同) is planning to enter the electric vehicle (EV) software and hardware design business, Tatung president Chaney Ho (何春盛) said at an electro mobility trade show in Taipei yesterday. The company has long been a maker of EV components, especially motors, and is planning to expand the branch and offer powertrain solutions, especially for buses, Ho said. “Tatung has been a partner for EV motors since 2006, but we lacked a complete powertrain solution,” he said. “Our collaboration with the Industrial Technology Research Institute (工研院) to develop a powertrain is bearing fruit, and we already have orders for our 250-kilowatt (kW) powertrain.” The company is also developing a 330kW powertrain, he added. Tatung is eyeing EV buses as an initial market for the company’s products, Ho said. While the Taiwanese market is small, with about 16,000 units sold per year, global demand for electric buses is at least 2 million units per year, he said. Tatung would use the Taiwanese market as a springboard for its global ambitions, he said. It is also planning to combine its to-be-developed powertrain with a bus chassis and export the technology, he said. “Next year we hope to mass-produce our 330kW powertrain and design it into commercial logistics vehicles,” Ho said. Tatung is also planning to expand into EV software and hardware design, Ho said. However, Ho said he is cautious about the prospect of mass production in Taiwan. The company might instead focus on developing components domestically and assemble the vehicles somewhere else, for example in Southeast Asia, he said. “It would also be a good opportunity for us to strategically strengthen our presence in Southeast Asian countries,” he said.
Visitors look at works on display at the Art Taipei fair at the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall 1 yesterday. The event, which runs until Monday, features pieces of art provided by collectors and galleries from nine countries.
INFLATION CONCERN: About three-quarters said things are much more expensive today than this time last year, including 30% who said that things are ‘very expensive’
Nearly 40 percent of Taiwanese expect housing prices to pick up this quarter and 10 percent predict a decline, while many expressed concern over inflation, Chinatrust Real Estate Co (中信房屋) said in a survey released yesterday. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said that housing prices would rise in the next few months, Chinatrust Real Estate said, citing internal data. Although the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (中華經濟研究院) on Wednesday raised its forecast for Taiwan’s GDP growth this year to 5.84 percent from 5.16 percent, 42 percent of respondents said that the economy weakened last quarter from three months earlier, the real-estate broker said. Restaurants and small and medium-sized retailers exited the market to stop losses after business failed to return to normal amid a level 2 COVID-19 alert, it said. At the same time, sectors are complaining about escalating operating costs as prices for oil products, raw materials and commodities soar, it said. Developers and builders have indicated chances are slim of price concessions in light of more expensive steel, wood, glass and other building materials, despite the government’s selective credit controls and unfavorable property tax terms, it said. Construction might focus on apartments with a lower barrier to entry on cheaper land for the time being rather than more expensive projects, as prospective buyers might hesitate, Chinatrust Real Estate said. For existing homes, sellers and buyers should iron out their pricing differences in a timely fashion to cope with inflation, which would eat away at wealth, it said. About 75 percent of respondents said that things are much more expensive today than this time last year, including 30 percent who said that prices are “very expensive,” it said, adding that 45 percent said that things are “less expensive.” Given that, respondents believe home prices would hold steady in the near future, it said. People are willing to cut spending on
About 57 percent of Taiwanese companies still have not set out plans for carbon reduction, Standard Chartered Bank (Taiwan) Ltd (渣打國際商業銀行) said yesterday, as it released its Zero Carbon Future survey on the progress of firms reducing emissions. For most companies that have taken action, adopting energy-saving and electricity-efficient approaches, and using environmentally friendly raw materials or substances in the manufacturing process, have become common practice, the survey showed. The survey was released ahead of the COP26 climate summit, scheduled from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in Glasgow, Scotland, which is to focus on specific global actions to combat climate change as carbon reduction becomes an international trend. The survey showed that 57.1 percent of the Taiwanese companies polled have not yet begun plans for carbon reduction, and 78.6 percent said that they do not know how to calculate their carbon footprint. As for the firms that have initiated carbon reduction plans, one-third are seeking assistance from external organizations, while one-third are in the stage of measuring carbon emissions, indicating that enterprises need to invest more effort and resources to accelerate the transformation to keep up with the international trend, Standard Chartered said. Regarding progress on carbon reduction, 75 percent of companies believe that their efforts are insufficient, while about 25 percent believe they would receive a passing grade compared with their peers, the bank said. In the process of promoting carbon reduction, nearly two-thirds of the firms believe that “external professional units or consultants” and “policy program guidance and incentive measures” would be the most effective driving forces, followed by “domestic and foreign successful cases” at 50 percent, it said. The survey also found that turning off lights and saving electricity is the most common practice companies implement, at 66.7 percent, followed by the use of environmentally friendly paper and stationery, at 47.6 percent. In terms of
Indonesia’s representative office in Taipei yesterday said that it wants to boost bilateral trade with Taiwan as it invited local businesses to attend the online opening ceremony of Indonesia’s largest annual trade event. The 36th Trade Expo Indonesia (TEI), which is to run virtually until Dec. 20, seeks to foster business networks and showcase Indonesian products, Indonesian President Joko Widodo told the ceremony. “We are grateful that the [COVID-19] pandemic situation is [now] under control in Indonesia, that’s why it is very important that Indonesia’s global trade needs to be revived,” Widodo said. “We are open to all cooperation, trade and investment with our trading partners that enhances our human capacity.” The expo, said to be the biggest annual international business exhibition in Indonesia, is being held online for the second consecutive year due to pandemic restrictions. People around the world, including in Taiwan, can register to attend the event virtually. Indonesian Economic and Trade Office to Taipei (IETO) head Budi Santoso said that prior to the pandemic, importers from around the globe attended the event in Jakarta. Concerned about the reluctance of importers to participate in a virtual exhibition because of the challenges posed by language differences, the office is offering services to help Taiwanese navigate products and meet business partners in Indonesia with a “Mini TEI” at the Indonesia Exhibition Center at the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall 1 in Xinyi District (信義). “In response, IETO Taipei, Indonesia’s representative in Taipei, is trying to present a Mini TEI where all of you will be personally accompanied by our staff to explore Indonesian products virtually and, when necessary, help you communicate with exporters in Indonesia,” Budi said. Attendees are treated to a range of authentic Indonesian food, including satay skewers and gado-gado salad. Meanwhile, Kevin Lin (林宜良), vice president of ELOM Trade Co, which operates as ASEAN
People walk among cosmetics counters at Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store Co’s Xinyi Place in Taipei yesterday, the first day of its anniversary sale event, which is to run until Nov. 3.
CRISIS WIDENING: ‘Contagion has surfaced across parts of China’s homebuilding sector,’ Fitch Ratings said after some smaller competitors defaulted on due payments
Shares of property giant China Evergrande Group (恆大集團) yesterday plunged after resuming trading in Hong Kong, with the failure of a unit sale deal deepening fears that the indebted firm might collapse and send shock waves through the world’s second-largest economy. Evergrande had suspended trading on Oct. 4 pending an announcement on a “major transaction” as it struggled with about US$300 billion of debt — with investors worried about the potential fallout from its predicament. The shares dropped yesterday more than 10 percent as it ended its two-week suspension. A deal worth HK$20.04 billion (US$2.58 billion) to sell a 50.1 percent stake in Evergrande Property Services Group Ltd (恒大物業) had fallen through, it said in a statement on Wednesday, when it announced that it would resume trading. The buyer in talks with Evergrande was a unit under Hong Kong real-estate firm Hopson Development Holdings Ltd (合生創展), which said in a stock market filing that it “regrets to announce that the vendor has failed to complete the sale.” Hopson shares yesterday rose 5 percent as Evergrande Property Services tumbled. Evergrande said it would continue to implement measures to ease its liquidity issues, cautioning that “there is no guarantee that the group will be able to meet its financial obligations.” In a stark assessment of its state of trading, Evergrande said it had sold only 405,000m2 of real estate throughout last month and this month so far — normally a peak season for sales. Contracted property sales totaled just 3.65 billion yuan (US$570.5 million) — a near collapse on the 142 billion yuan it recorded in a similar period last year. There has been no further progress on asset sales following the sale of a US$1.5 billion stake in a regional Chinese bank last month, it said. The Shenzhen-based company has missed several payments on US dollar-denominated bonds, and a grace period
QUADRUPLING PROFITS: The automaker defied the global sector’s trend, with one official calling the spike in demand in its market niche a ‘profound awakening’
Tesla Inc’s third-quarter profits more than quadrupled on sharply higher sales, despite a global semiconductor shortage that has plagued the auto industry, according to results released on Wednesday. The electric vehicle (EV) maker headed by CEO Elon Musk posted a record profit of US$1.6 billion for the three-month period, as revenue surged 57 percent year-on-year to US$13.8 billion. Tesla also delivered a record 241,391 vehicles during the period, with sales significantly ramping up in North America and China. The results suggest that Tesla’s output has been less affected by the global shortage of semiconductors than some rival automakers that have shuttered factories or cut production. However, the company said that chip shortages, as well as congestion at ports and rolling blackouts, “have been impacting our ability to keep factories running at full speed.” “We believe our supply chain, engineering and production teams have been dealing with these global challenges with ingenuity, agility and flexibility that is unparalleled in the automotive industry,” Tesla said in the accompanying news release. Tesla notched slightly lower revenue on the sale of EV regulatory credits to other automakers compared with the same period last year. The company also reported a US$51 million impairment related to its bitcoin investment. However, profit margins expanded, even as the company alluded to uncertainties amid the lingering supply chain challenges. “We continue to run our production lines as close to full capacity as conditions allow,” Tesla said. “While sequential growth remains our goal, the magnitude of growth will be determined largely by outside factors.” The EV maker said its “gigafactory” near Berlin — its first European plant, which is expected to ultimately produce about 500,000 vehicles per year — is expected to receive final permit approval by the end of the year, while another gigafactory in Austin, Texas, is “progressing as planned,” it said. Tesla is nearing assembly
PayPal Holdings Inc’s pursuit of Pinterest Inc would be a giant leap away from its long-time image as a mere online checkout button. For months, PayPal has been touting its ambitions to become the next global “super app,” akin to China’s Alipay or WeChat, India’s Paytm or Singapore’s Grab — digital ecosystems that blend social media, commerce and banking. The firm, which earlier this year launched a high-yield savings account and shopping features, is said to be weighing a US$45 billion acquisition of Pinterest — a visual search and scrapbooking platform that lets users save, collect and group images by theme. “The key value proposition for PayPal would be to have an anchor in Internet, and/or e-commerce and social media, which helps diversify away from standard online checkout,” Mizuho Securities USA analyst Dan Dolev said in a note to clients. “PayPal could potentially add more shopping capabilities and boost its e-commerce presence, potentially competing with other large online retailers like Amazon or Shopify.” PayPal, founded in 1998 by a group of investors including Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, got its start as a way to pay for things online at a time when many businesses were still relying on paper checks or cash to conduct e-commerce. Since then, the company has amassed more than 400 million users and its checkout button remains one of the most popular for online merchants to add to their Web sites. However, Paypal chief executive officer Dan Schulman wants to go further and move the company beyond the checkout page. With Pinterest, it could glean even more data about the products consumers are buying. “It is difficult to link specific consumers to specific purchases. PayPal has recently described its own aim to become more of a shopping destination by leveraging consumer data,” Barclays PLC analyst Ramsey El-Assal said in a note.
Australia yesterday delivered a withering denunciation of China’s trade policies, accusing Beijing of undermining the WTO and foot-dragging on promised economic reforms. During a usually routine WTO review in Geneva, Switzerland, Australian representatives said that China had benefited “significantly” from 20 years of WTO membership, but was not keeping its end of the bargain. In an unusually blunt statement made public after the meeting, Canberra said that a slew of sanctions on Australian goods were politically motivated, and showed a “growing gap between China’s rhetoric and its actions.” Over the past 18 months, China has imposed restrictions on a long list of Australian exports as political relations between the two countries have hit their lowest point in a generation. “China has increasingly tested global trade rules and norms by engaging in practices that are inconsistent with its WTO commitments,” the Australian government said in a statement. “By undermining agreed trade rules China also undermines the multilateral trading system on which all WTO members rely.” Australian officials for the first time also revealed that the list — barley, coal, copper ores, cotton, hay, logs, rock lobsters, sugar, wine, beef, citrus fruit, grains and table grapes — now includes dairy products and infant formula. Experts see China’s sanctions on Australia as a thinly veiled message to countries in the Indo-Pacific region: that challenging Beijing politically would come with serious economic cost. Canberra has long pushed back against China’s efforts to assert influence in the region — banning Huawei Technologies Co (華為) from key contracts, questioning how the COVID-19 pandemic began, announcing a massive increase in military spending and curbing Chinese “influence operations” in Australia. At the closed-door Geneva meeting, China reportedly vowed to accelerate efforts to open its markets and implement a “more proactive import policy.” However, Australia insisted that China’s “market-oriented reforms have not progressed” in the past
Unilever PLC has accelerated price increases to the highest rate in years, offsetting rising raw material costs and a decline in shipments in Southeast Asia due to COVID-19 outbreaks. The maker of Lifebuoy soap and Oxo beef stock said it increased pricing by 4.1 percent in the third quarter, the fastest in at least seven years. That offset an unexpected decline in shipments. Rivals, ranging from Procter & Gamble Co to Nestle SA and Danone SA, have all warned of strained supply chains and soaring material costs. The risk is that price increases might lead consumers to switch to cheaper products from rivals. Unilever chief executive officer Alan Jope forecast at least another 12 months of inflationary pressure. “Our current view of the future is that peak inflation will be in the first half of 2022, and it will moderate as we move toward the second half,” Jope told Bloomberg Television in an interview. “We continue to responsibly take pricing, and that’s in relation to the very high levels of inflation we’re seeing,” Unilever chief financial officer Graeme Pitkethly said. Inflation in the consumer goods industry is in the “high teens” overall, with Unilever seeing effects slightly below those levels due to its negotiating power, he said. Inflation could be worse next year and the company might have to deal with spot pricing as its hedges expire, Pitkethly said. About 20 billion euros (US$23.3 billion) of annual raw materials and packaging costs, and 3 billion euros of annual logistics costs have been affected by inflation, Pitkethly said. Unilever is affected by higher prices for materials such as palm oil, soybean oil and crude oil derivatives including resin, as well as shipping costs. SOUTHEAST ASIA CRUNCH Overall sales rose 2.5 percent on an underlying basis in the third quarter, but a steep decline in demand in important
UNITED STATES Fed reports slowing growth Supply bottlenecks and labor shortages have slowed economic growth and contributed to a sharp rise in prices, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday. The constraints and shortage of goods caused “significantly elevated prices” in most parts of the country, the Fed said in its “beige book” report on economic conditions, which noted rising uncertainty about the outlook. While economic activity increased at a “modest to moderate” rate over the past several weeks, in much of the country “the pace of growth slowed,” it said, adding that this was due to “supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and uncertainty around the Delta variant” of SARS-CoV-2. THAILAND Property lending rules eased The central bank temporarily suspended home mortgage lending limits to revive the sluggish property market and COVID-19 pandemic-hit economy, fueling a rally in shares of real-estate developers. Home buyers can now take loans equivalent to 100 percent of the property’s value until the end of next year, the Bank of Thailand said yesterday. That is up from a previously required loan-to-value range of 70 to 90 percent, with that ceiling dependent on the type and number of houses purchased. The mortgage move is aimed at boosting the property sector and related businesses, which account for 9.8 percent of the economy and employ 2.8 million people, Bank of Thailand Assistant Governor Roong Mallikamas told a news briefing. NEW ZEALAND Trade deal with UK inked The South Pacific nation has become the second country to secure a post-Brexit free-trade agreement with the UK, in a deal that aims to eliminate all tariffs on exports and eventually boost the economy by almost NZ$1 billion (US$718 million). The government said that the UK would remove most tariffs on exports to the country — including wine, honey, onions, some dairy products and most industrial products — as soon as
ICT LEADER: A statistics official said that in addition to continued strong demand for high-tech products, most categories experienced double-digit percentage growth
Export orders grew 25.7 percent to a record US$62.9 billion last month from US$50.03 billion a year earlier, the 19th consecutive month of expansion as new smartphones launches and emerging technologies drove demand, Ministry of Economic Affairs data showed yesterday. Export orders rose 4.5 percent from US$53.5 billion in August, the data showed. In the third quarter of this year, orders jumped 21.7 percent annually to US$171.7 billion, the best quarter since the October-to-December period last year. In the first nine months of this year, export orders totaled US$481.63 billion, also a record, up 32.4 percent from the same period last year. The growth last month was led by information communications technology (ICT) products, which soared 40.1 percent year-on-year and 39.1 percent month-on-month, the ministry data showed. Last year’s iPhone 12 was delayed from the usual September release amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While the ministry did not name Apple Inc’s iPhone 13 by name, Department of Statistics Director Huang Yu-ling (黃于玲) said that the “delayed release of last year’s model of a popular international handset” compared with this year accounted for the unusually large year-on-year growth. Demand for laptops and display cards remains strong, the ministry said. “In addition to the continued strong demand for high-tech products, relatively high international commodities prices and orders for traditional industries mean that most categories experienced double-digit percentage growth,” Huang said. The optical products industry continued to benefit from demand for larger laptop monitors, as well as for automotive and commercial use, growing 19.5 percent year-on-year, the 16th month of such growth. Traditional sectors were not left out of the global rally, with metals, machines, petroplastics and chemicals all rising by double digit percentages. There was an unusual amount of growth from Europe, totaling US$13.5 billion, up 53.1 percent year-on-year, the data showed. Demand for ICT products in Europe last month grew by 69.5 percent
SAME AS 2020: The Cathay Financial survey showed that 57 percent of respondents plan to use their Quintuple Stimulus Vouchers this year and 12.7 percent next year
Necessary items were the top pick for people when asked what they planned to spend their Quintuple Stimulus Vouchers on, with 39.3 percent of respondents to a survey by Cathay Financial Holdings Co (國泰金控) released yesterday saying that groceries and other such items were on their list, while 26.4 percent had planned trips to department stores. The survey showed that 11.3 percent of respondents planned to spend their vouchers on travel and 9.9 percent on dining out. The survey showed that people are more likely to use the vouchers at shopping malls or restaurants than last year, Cathay Financial said in a report. The Quintuple Stimulus Voucher program — which distributes NT$5,000 (US$179.14) of vouchers to eligible residents, with no upfront payment — began on Oct. 8 and runs though April next year. The vouchers can be used at restaurants, street markets, department stores, hotels, cram schools, concerts, sports events, tourism-related businesses, Taiwanese online retailers and public schools for miscellaneous fees. The Executive Yuan said that it expects the program to generate about NT$200 billion in economic activity, compared with an estimated NT$101 billion from last year’s Triple Stimulus Vouchers, which were NT$3,000 voucher packages and required an upfront payment of NT$1,000. A survey conducted in July last year showed that 24.2 percent of respondents planned to spend their Triple Stimulus Vouchers at shopping malls and 6.3 percent planned to use them at restaurants, compared with 26.4 and 9.9 percent respectively with the Quintuple Stimulus Vouchers this year, Cathay Financial said. Groceries was also the most popular option in last year’s survey, with 42.4 percent saying that they would use their Triple Stimulus Vouchers for necessary items, it said. Yesterday’s survey showed that 57 percent said they would spend their Quintuple Stimulus Vouchers this year, 12.7 percent planned to use them next year and 30 percent had not
The Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER, 中華經濟研究院) yesterday raised its forecast for Taiwan’s GDP growth for this year from 5.16 percent to 5.84 percent on stronger exports, and urged policymakers to heed inflationary pressures spurred by a global economic recovery and loose monetary policies. The plea came after the government announced a minimum wage hike of 5 percent from next year, and retailers and restaurants increased prices to reflect soaring oil, raw material and labor costs. The latest growth projection is the highest in 11 years as Taiwan has been benefiting from a surge in demand for electronics amid trends toward remote working and distance learning amid COVID-19 restrictions. The Taipei-based think tank said that the consumer price index (CPI) would rise to 1.84 percent this year, reversing a 0.24 percent contraction last year, when border controls were installed, halting almost all non-resident arrivals. That would suggest a gain of 2.08 percentage points, higher than the central bank’s 2 percent alarm for monetary tightening. “Policymakers should pay attention to inflation,” CIER president Chang Chuang-chang (張傳章) said. “While the issue is not yet serious, it is a focus of conversation.” Many have complained about feeling the pinch and voiced concern that the situation might get out of control, Chang said. An ongoing global economic recovery has pushed international oil and raw material prices higher, while supply deficiencies are also fueling the problem, the CIER said. Concern over inflation might translate into reality, so the government had better be prepared, Chang said. Cathay United Bank (國泰世華銀行) lead economist Lin Chi-chao (林啟超) said that climate change is adding to inflation worries. This winter might be harsh, bolstering demand for coal and natural gas, Lin said. That is why China has introduced power rationing to cope with energy shortages, Lin said, adding that snow fell in Japan’s Hokkaido Prefecture on Sunday, 17 days earlier