Wed, May 21, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Business community maintains ‘wait-and-see’ view

By Jerry Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH AFP

The National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (中小企業協會) yesterday expressed concern over President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) ability to address issues relating to local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Ma had promised before the election to take care of domestic SMEs, but no concrete plans have been proposed so far, the association said.

“There has been a huge drop in expectations before and after the presidential election. All I’ve seen so far is President Ma’s visits to large domestic enterprises,” the association’s chairman, Roscher Lin (林秉彬), said by telephone yesterday.

It was good to hear Ma share his vision during his inaugural speech yesterday, Lin said, but the execution of his vision was what mattered the most.

Local stock investors had reservations after Ma’s address as well.

Share prices closed down 2.43 percent yesterday, with investors taking profits made during a rally ahead of his inauguration, dealers said.

Ma took the oath of office as the nation’s president on a pledge to mend relations with China and revitalize the economy.

Optimism about his agenda contributed to a 5.7 percent rise in the TAIEX over the previous six trading sessions.

But the weighted index closed down 226.31 points at 9,068.89 on turnover of NT$177.70 billion (US$5.83 billion) yesterday.

Alex Huang (黃國偉), an assistant vice president at Mega International Investment Services (兆豐國際投顧), said there was some disappointment over Ma’s inaugural speech, but that his comments about China were expected.

Investors took profits “after a rally of more than 500 points over the past few sessions,” Huang said, adding that concerns about inflation were partly to blame as the new administration had indicated plans to hike oil and utility prices.

But the overall picture was positive as Ma’s administration had pledged to boost economic ties with China, although the stock market could face some bumps, Huang said.

China is Taiwan’s main export market and biggest trading partner. Two-way trade last year reached a record US$102 billion.

Despite some disappointment, Ma’s declaration yesterday of Taiwan’s position as a democratic and liberal country, and emphasis on collaboration with other countries won praise from most business tycoons.

Chang Ping-chao (張平沼), chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce (全國商業總會), said yesterday that he was glad to hear the president’s pledge to use the so-called “1992 consensus” as the foundation to resume cross-strait talks.

The European Chamber of Commerce Taipei (ECCT) also praised Ma for addressing issues such as the establishment of a clean government, the fight against corruption and improving cross-strait relations.

The president’s latest speech repeated what he had said before, the chamber said.

“But is there anything else to be said?” Guy Wittich, the chamber’s chief executive officer, said by telephone yesterday.

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