■ Foreign affairs
MAC official to visit US
Vice Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) will visit US officials and US think tanks in New York and Washington next month. Tung will be in the US for 10 days. During the visit, Tung will update US officials and academics on Taiwanese political leaders' attitudes towards the arms sales bill and the situation following elections on Dec 9. The progress of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) constitutional reforms will be another topic that Tung will address in Washington.
Far Eastern to launch service
Far Eastern Air Transport Ltd is scheduled to launch passenger charter flight services between Kaohsiung and Subic Bay on a trial basis from Dec. 17, an official at the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei said yesterday. In addition to offering regular flight services to businessmen from Taiwan, the inauguration of the route is expected to help boost the Philippines' tourist industry, the official said. According to the official, Subic Bay boasts a wide variety of leisure and tourist spots in addition to a brisk economy and excellent infrastructure. The official said Taipei and Manila signed an agreement last year to form an economic corridor between Kaohsiung and the Subic-Clark Special Economic Zones, adding that the move will help expand bilateral trade exchanges. According to official statistics, investment by Taiwanese manufacturers accounts for 85 percent of Subic Bay's total export value.
Freego Bus contract at risk
The Directorate General of Highways (DGH) wants to revoke the right of Freego Bus to operate between Taipei and Kaohsiung after its current contract expires next month. The agency made the proposal on Friday and will send it for review by the freeway route committee at the beginning of next month. If the proposal is upheld, 60 daily bus runs would be canceled. The agency said Freego has had 11 major traffic accidents in the past five years, more than any other bus operators. Last month, a Freego bus ran into an oil truck, killing three people and injuring seven others. The bus company said if the committee approved the proposal it would file an appeal with the Petitions and Appeals Committee of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
Seminar showcases Vietnam
A seminar on Vietnam's investment climate will be held tomorrow in Taipei with the aim of enabling Taiwanese manufacturers to gain a better understanding of that country's economic development and investment policy, a Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) official said yesterday. According to the official, the workshop will be hosted by the Vietnamese central investment authority, the Vietnam Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei and the MOEA's Industrial Development and Investment Center. Since Vietnam was admitted into the WTO as its 150th member, the Vietnamese government has taken various steps such as revising its regulations governing foreign investment and business law to lure more foreign investment, the official said. The official further said the accumulated amount of investment by Taiwanese manufacturers in Vietnam has reached around US$8 billion, making Taiwan the largest foreign investor in the Southeast Asian nation.