Fri, Feb 18, 2005 - Page 2 News List

No reason to lose confidence in local market: officials

REASSURANCE The nation's high-tech sector is unlikely to be affected by the investigation into UMC's dealings, according to officials of the National Science Council

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN HSINCHU

There is no reason to lose confidence in the nation's high-tech development in light of the investigation into United Microelectronics Corp's (UMC) possible involvement in the Chinese semiconductor start-up He Jian Technology (Suzhou) Co, officials of the National Science Council (NSC) said yesterday.

The Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park remains the driving force behind the nation's economy, with annual sales last year reaching a record high of NT$185.9 billion (US$5.9 billion), the officials said.

NSC Vice Chairman Chi Guo-chung (紀國鐘) said yesterday that the government plays a key role in developing the nation's science parks, which provide high-tech firms with an environment that is more favorable than that of China.

"I don't see any problem in this case. We still have a better environment for investment and superior engineering brainpower. Taiwanese can be confident that the park is still the most powerful engine for Taiwan," Chi said.

The industrial park's director-general James Lee (李界木) said yesterday that operations at UMC, the world's No. 2 contract chipmaker, remain normal.

"I do not believe that UMC exported facilities to China, because our office received no proposal about transferring facilities or property," Lee said.

High-ranking NSC officials told the media yesterday that they had questioned UMC chairman Robert Tsao (曹興誠) years ago about speculation that his company had ties with He Jian. They said they were satisfied that Tsao was not the kind of person who would sacrifice Taiwan's interests for the sake of profit.

The industrial park's administration said yesterday that the NT$185.9 billion in sales last year represented growth of 27 percent year-on-year. They attributed this to outstanding performance in the global semiconductor industry.

The administration predicted that the park's sales for this year would amount to between NT$110 billion and NT$120 billion on the back of the opening of new thin-film transistor (TFT) liquid-crystal display (LCD) firms.

Chen Ming-huang (陳銘煌), director of the park's investment services division, said that sales of precision machinery showed the best performance among the six major industries in the park, with growth of 60 percent. Sales in the photo-electronic and biotechnology industries grew by 39 percent and 32 percent respectively.

Sales of microchip companies climbed 32 percent to NT$744.1 billion. The telecommunications division grew by 10 percent and computers by 3 percent. The number of firms in the park increased by 4 percent last year. By the end of last year, there were 384 firms, with a total of 115,477 employees.

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