Fri, Dec 25, 2009 - Page 3 News List

CROSS STRAIT TALKS: FEATURE: Chinese firms test waters as investment barriers fall

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

“We are testing the waters in Taiwan,” Crystal Wang (王晶), CEO of Fujian Newland Computer Co, told reporters on the sidelines of an investment forum on Wednesday held in conjunction with cross-strait talks in Taichung.

Fujian Newland, China’s leading barcode service provider, which employs 2,000 people, is the first Chinese enterprise that was allowed to invest in Taiwan after the nation opened selected sectors to Chinese investors in June.

“Many enterprises in China are not familiar with Taiwan’s investment environment. We are slightly worried about [social] safety issues and whether we could make money,” the executive said.

However, the company decided to launch its subsidiary here to support Asian operations outside China because of Taipei’s excellent business ambience and its proximity to the company’s Fuzhou headquarters.

Four months after starting operations in Taiwan, business is picking up and running smoothly, although there are occasional hiccups. Visa approval for the company to send Chinese staff to Taiwan takes time, and Wang said the government should offer easier visa procedures such as landing visas to Chinese who work for subsidiaries in Taiwan.

“Taiwanese can easily obtain landing visas in China and we hope the same could apply here,” she said. “In the tech world, speed is competitiveness.”

Fujian Newland is not alone.

Easier personnel exchanges, opening more industries to ­investment and transparency in government policies would play a key role in drawing Chinese investment to Taiwan, the Chinese executives said during their Taichung visit.

With enterprises from the two sides joining hands and sharing their respective advantages, Taiwan and China are set to gain a foothold in the international market, they said.

Wang is one of about 20 entrepreneurs who traveled with the Chinese delegation and attended the investment forum, which the government organized to deepen delegates’ understanding of investment sentiment in Taiwan.

Other executives included representatives of Central Huijin Investment Co, a major investor in Chinese banks; the Lenovo Group, China’s largest and the world’s fourth-largest PC maker; and China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, China’s largest ship equipment maker.

China Quanjude (Group) Co, famed for its Peking duck, is also mulling investment in Taiwan.

“The market in Taiwan has potential. We have inspected sites in northern, central and southern Taiwan,” Quanjude executive vice general manager Yun Cheng (雲程) said.

Despite an interest in investing in Taiwan, to date cross-strait investment has been a one-way street, with Taiwanese firms pouring capital into China, but not vice versa.

Taiwanese firms were allowed to invest in China as early as 1992 and have since injected NT$150 billion (US$4.7 billion) into China — a total that helped boost China’s economy and increase job opportunities.

In June, Taiwan finally opened 192 sectors in the manufacturing, services and public construction sectors to Chinese investors. Telecoms, financial and insurance services, among others, remain barred from obtaining Chinese-sourced funds.

To date, 22 investment projects worth NT$1.19 billion from China have been approved, with investment concentrated mainly in the software, digital content and civil aviation sectors, Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) data show.

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