Fri, Mar 14, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Short war would have little impact: official


Vice Premier and Council for Economic Planning and Development Chairman Lin Hsin-i (林信義) said yesterday that the impact of a short war between the US and Iraq on the domestic economy would be limited.

At a legislative question-and-answer session, Lin said that a war lasting from three to six weeks would have no major impact on Taiwan's exports and imports.

Lin said that a prolonged military conflict would hamper outbound shipments.

Lin also made it clear that Taiwan will support the US and its campaign against terrorism should war break out.

Responding to a question about a domestic steel shortage raised by PFP caucus whip Chung Shao-ho (鍾紹和), Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Ruey-long (陳瑞隆) said government agencies, including the one in charge of raw materials and major products, have set up task forces to tackle the possible consequences of a war.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs has also asked China Steel Corp (CSC) -- Taiwan's leading supplier of steel materials -- to satisfy domestic demand before exporting its products, Chen said, adding that demand for steel might surge in the international market in the post-war construction period.

In the face of rising international prices for steel goods and the many disgruntled mid- and downstream steelmakers at home, Chen said the ministry has crafted measures to secure supplies for the domestic market by preventing CSC-contracted wholesalers from exporting unprocessed raw materials.

PFP lawmakers said earlier the same day that various CSC mid-stream suppliers have exported unprocessed raw materials and hiked prices, making it difficult for local downstream businesses to buy steel at reasonable prices.

Hsieh Chang-chieh (謝章捷) demanded that the Fair Trade Commission investigate and seriously punish illegal practices such as hoarding and monopolization attempts.

"Law-enforcement authorities should intervene to ensure a balanced demand and supply at reasonable prices," Hsieh argued.

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