Four harbors around the country meet the conditions for becoming free-trade harbor zones, Ministry of Transportation and Communications officials said yesterday.
The officials were referring to the harbors at Kaohsiung, Taichung, Keelung and Hualien.
The legislature will convene for a special three-day session today to discuss six financial bills -- including the free-trade harbor legislation -- that the ruling DPP says are crucial to the nation's economic development.
The officials said Kaohsiung Harbor, which is located at a hub of international sea lanes, has an excellent harbor. Almost every major shipping company in the world has a container wharf in Kaohsiung and it is a major harbor in the Asia-Pacific region. It also has an industrial area and an export processing zone.
Taichung Harbor has deep water and a large on-shore area that can be put to various uses. Although Taichung Harbor is designed as an export processing zone, few manufacturers have been persuaded to set up there.
But the officials were confident that if it were transformed into a free trade-harbor zone, it would be more efficiently used, according to the officials.
Keelung Harbor is located on the major sea lanes between Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia. If container vessels can use Keelung as a transshipment harbor, it would be superior even to Hong Kong, the officials said.
Keelung would be suitable as a free-trade harbor zone and transshipment harbor for the Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australian sea lanes.
The officials also said that the ministry has plans to combine Hualien Harbor in eastern Taiwan with the neighboring Meilun Industrial Zone or the Hualien-based Taiwan Fertilizer Company to form a free-trade harbor zone. Hualien has lower land and manpower costs, they said.
Meanwhile, Kaohsiung Harbor is planning to promote a second container center to improve its commodity distribution and container-handling ability.