Fri, Mar 18, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Ministry mulls China disaster channel

PREPAREDNESS:Legislators asked how ready the Ministry of Economic Affairs would be in case disaster strikes Taiwanese or Chinese nuclear power plants along the coast

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter

Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) yesterday said the ministry was mulling establishing a mechanism to exchange nuclear power safety information with China following the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged parts of Japan last Friday and caused radiation leaks at nuclear power plants in Fukushima Prefecture.

Such a move was discussed internally to form a cross-strait communications platform on disaster prevention that would also include typhoon and weather monitoring, he said.

The minister made the remarks during a meeting at the legislature’s Economics Committee, with legislators questioning him and officials from the Atomic Energy Council and Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) about possible shortcomings in the -disaster--preparedness of Taiwan’s four nuclear power plants.

The legislators asked how ready the ministry would be to prevent a Fukushima-style disaster from -happening in Taiwan in the event of similar natural disasters, and how it planned to protect Taiwanese as China plans to build several nuclear plants along its coast.

China has two nuclear plants in Fujian Province and reportedly intends to build 13 more along its southeastern coastline.

In other news, the ministry said yesterday it would trim the taxes on some imports for Taiwanese companies in the face of the quake, which has disrupted the global technology supply chain.

Lien Ching-chang (連錦漳), a deputy director-general at the ministry’s Industrial Development Bureau, told reporters in the Executive Yuan that the quake has impacted Japanese supplies of components, parts and machinery to overseas clients, and Taiwanese auto, chip, panel and solar industries would take a blow.

He said these companies should not face an immediate threat as they have secured component inventories to last up to two months.

However, the mid-term effect has to be closely monitored as Japan has implemented rolling blackouts, which could affect the operation of some production -facilities, Lien added.

The ministry will help Taiwanese firms look out for substitute components in case Japanese suppliers couldn’t meet their demand, he said.

JPMorgan Securities (Taiwan) raised concerns about Taiwanese auto, semiconductor and PC industries after the quake.

“Taiwan automakers [operate] largely on an OEM [original equipment manufacturing] basis and rely heavily on key components, such as engines and transmissions from Japan,” it said in a report on Tuesday.

While raw wafer supply may not be an issue in the near term, a -potential hiccup in the supply of bismaleimide triazine (BT) resin from Japan could impact applications using BT-based substrates, including handsets and communications products, it said.

Mitsubishi Gas Chemical and Hitachi Chemical together account for about 90 percent of global BT resin supply, it added.

In the PC sector, aside from Japan being the third-largest PC market globally with a 5 percent market share, concerns remain about securing stable supplies of components such as rechargeable batteries, optical disk drives and some hard disk drive parts, -JPMorgan said.

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