Tue, Dec 14, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers point finger over flat-panel companies

By Lin Shu-hui  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday accused President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration of incompetence in assisting local flat-panel firms in their legal battle against the EU and of failing to prevent a high-tech exodus to China.

AU Optronics Corp, Chimei Innolux Corp, Chunghwa Picture Tubes and HannStar Display Corp, along with South Korean firm LG Display Co, were slapped with a 649 million euro (US$860 million) fine over allegations that they had colluded and created a price-fixing cartel from October 2001 to February 2006.

The fine for the Taiwanese firms amounted to 433.92 million euros.

DPP Legislator Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) said the Taiwanese companies were fined because they fell into a trap set by the South Korean firm.

The South Koreans initiated a price-fixing meeting with Taiwanese firms, Wang alleged, only to turn around and accuse the latter of price-fixing.

The Ma administration failed to protect the interests and reputation of Taiwanese firms, Wang said.

Also at the legislature, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) accused Samsung of acting “unethically” by snitching on Taiwanese firms during a European Commission anti-trust investigation.

He said Samsung’s offer to the European investigators to act as a “tainted witness” in exchange for immunity was unethical.

Shih said Samsung’s action of turning informant was not in accord with its own commercial ethics.

“This should not have been done,” he said.

For the time being, Taiwan will not impose any special restrictions on imports from South Korea, he said, reiterating the government’s support for the Taiwanese manufacturers and its willingness to help them deal with new competition rules in the world market.

Wang also said that when the Ma administration was negotiating the terms of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed between Taiwan and China in June, flat-panel makers were not listed as part of the “early harvest” list.

This had resulted in many planning to take their business and investments to China and causing Taiwan to lose high-tech industries.

DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) accused the Ma administration of failing to come up with measures to assist the firms in dealing with the EU litigation saying it had instead “ridiculed” them and caused them to move to China, which now threatened to destroy the nation’s high-tech industry.

Pan said that even before the ECFA “early harvest” program comes into force on Jan. 1, Taiwanese high-tech companies were already seeing falling production orders.

Such drops occurred as recently as September, he said.

Foreign investment is also only targeting the stock and real estate markets, showing that the Ma administration has done nothing for the manufacturing industry.

As with the high-tech sector, this has compelled the manufacturing industry to relocate to China, Pan said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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