The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taiwan yesterday lauded the government for resolving a record number of issues in its annual position paper and said it looks forward to further collaborations to enhance Taiwan’s business environment. A total of 13 issues in last year’s white paper have been fully resolved, the best performance in the publication’s 25-year history, the chamber said, adding that it would highlight the achievement in its upcoming edition. The foreign trade group, with more than 1,000 members from more than 500 firms, is to unveil its position paper for this year on Wednesday next week. The resolved issues include permitting securities investment trust funds to invest in contingent convertible bonds and allowing marketing materials to be reviewed by an independent department, it said. The chamber also praised the Financial Supervisory Commission for easing rules on loan-loss reserve and guarantee reserve requirements for foreign banks’ branches in Taiwan, and allowing foreign institutional investors to invest in exchange-traded funds. In addition, AmCham thanked regulators for responding positively to its plea to remove phrases from legal revisions that might have a negative effect on business mergers and acquisitions. That so many of the financial sector’s issues were put to rest demonstrates a strong willingness on the part of the Financial Supervisory Commission, the National Development Council and the central bank to work constructively with industry stakeholders, the chamber said. The chamber further welcomed progress on its push for greater flexibility on renewable energy requirements for major industrial users. Draft regulations introduced by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 2019 required such users to buy or generate renewable energy equal to at least 10 percent of their chartered capacity within five years. However, the draft failed to take into account power generated by renewable energy facilities already existing in Taiwan. Due to the advocacy of AmCham members and
With the US opening up to travel, demand in Taiwan for US-bound flights has soared, pushing up ticket prices to most destinations in North America, tourism sources said. Fares for destinations in the US have risen dramatically since the middle of last month, and the trend is expected to continue in the coming months, as California on Tuesday lifted most social distancing and capacity limits put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, ezTravel Co (易遊網) said in a statement yesterday. The travel agency forecast that the number of tickets sold this month is likely to be double or triple the number sold last month, with tickets to San Francisco and Los Angeles in greatest demand. To meet that demand, major carriers have increased their Taiwan-US flights, it said. Since Monday last week, EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) has been operating daily flights between Taoyuan and Los Angeles, up from three per week previously. From July 1 to July 18, flights to Seattle, Washington, are to be increased to four per week, from two per week this month, while one more flight per week is to be added for travel to San Francisco and Vancouver, Canada, it said. Round-trip fares for EVA flights to Los Angeles departing later this month or early next month are more than NT$70,000 for economy class, NT$90,000 for premium economy and more than NT$220,000 for business class, according to ezTravel’s Web site. All of those fares are at least 50 percent higher than the prices offered by EVA prior to the pandemic. China Airlines Ltd (中華航空), which on April 29 significantly cut back its flights after several of its pilots came down with COVID-19, has also said it would add flights to Los Angeles on Tuesday and Thursday next week and on June 29, and two more
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Listed firms are required to disclose data that are critical to evaluating how they address environmental, social and corporate governance issues
Starting next year, listed firms would be required to disclose their power and water consumption, as well as waste management, so investors can evaluate their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) performance, the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) said on Tuesday. The commission last year encouraged listed companies to volunteer the information, but not many did, so it has made it mandatory for all listed firms to disclose the data from next year, Securities and Futures Bureau Deputy Director-General Tsai Li-ling (蔡麗玲) told a videoconference. The commission would revise the format of the appendixes of listed companies’ annual reports by the end of this year, and public companies must include the data in their appendixes from next year, Tsai said, adding that companies are required to release the reports seven days before their annual shareholders’ meetings. The revised format has not been finalized, but three key gauges would be included — carbon emissions, water use and waste management — as they indicate how companies address vital environmental issues, Tsai said. Given the mandatory disclosure, companies are expected to step up efforts to address climate change, as investors would be able to compare data, the commission said. Companies also have to disclose the number of workplace accidents and injuries, and female workers as a percentage of total employees and management to help investors understand how they deal with social issues such as labor safety and gender equality, she said. “Overall, we need public companies to be more specific when they introduce their ESG performance,” the commission said. The FSC would also tighten requirements for information disclosure of ESG-themed funds, as some securities investment and trust companies have issued such funds without detailed information of their portfolios or investment strategies, Tsai said. The new rules would be announced by the end of next month, she said, adding that the FSC would
Yuan deposits held by local banks last month slipped by 0.45 percent, or 1.08 billion yuan (US$168.8 million), to a six-month low of 238.04 billion yuan, as retail and corporate investors shed holdings, the central bank said yesterday. The latest balance marked the third straight month of decline, although the Chinese currency has gained value against the US dollar this year, Gloria Chen (陳婉寧), deputy director-general of the Department of Foreign Exchange, told an online news conference. Domestic banking units saw demand deposits grow, while time deposits fell, because retail and corporate accounts preferred to take shelter in demand deposits amid uncertainty, Chen said, adding that some corporate accounts converted yuan-based receivables into the local currency. This was probably a result of expectations that the greenback’s downward trend would soon reverse up, Chen said. The faster-than-expected recovery in the US from the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled speculation that the US Federal Reserve would start tapering talks earlier. Yuan deposits at local banking units fell 0.62 percent to 206.3 billion yuan, the central bank said. Offshore banking units reported a fractional 0.66 percent increase in yuan deposits to 31.74 billion yuan, it added. Taiwan has the world’s second-largest offshore yuan deposits after Hong Kong’s 782 billion yuan, but ahead of Singapore’s 152 billion yuan and South Korea’s 11.4 billion yuan, Chen said. Still, the yuan remains a major currency in circulation around the world, which is why local banks offer relatively high interest rates to attract yuan deposits, the official said.
Smartphone sales in Taiwan grew 2.7 percent year-on-year to 1.38 million units in the first quarter of this year, marking the first annual increase over the past five years, International Data Corp (IDC) said yesterday, attributing it to demand for high-end 5G-enabled smartphones. Average selling prices also increased 14.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter due to a chip shortage and robust demand, it said. “People prioritized the purchase of laptops and other related equipment over upgrading smartphones” during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, IDC associate research director Joey Yen (嚴蘭欣) said in a press release. “As such, even though 5G services commenced in mid-2020 in Taiwan, it was not until the first quarter of 2021 that we saw year-on-year growth in smartphone sales,” she said. Robust demand for Apple Inc’s 5G smartphone drove the year-on-year growth in smartphone sales during the first three months of this year. Sales of iPhones grew 22.4 percent year-on-year in the quarter, lifting Apple’s market share in Taiwan from 34.3 percent to 40.9 percent, it said. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co ranked second, with a market share of 26.5 percent, followed by China’s Oppo Mobile Telecommunications Corp (歐珀) at 8 percent, Vivo Communication Technology Co (維沃) at 6.9 percent and Xiaomi Corp (小米) at 6.2 percent, IDC data showed. Xiaomi handset sales included those sold under the Xiaomi, Hongmi and Pocophone brands, IDC said. Overall, the top five brands took up 88.5 percent of the local market in the first quarter, it said. “Taiwan’s handset market is now increasingly dominated by the large players,” IDC said. Taiwan’s smartphone market has been slowing since 2016, but Yen forecast that local sales this year would see year-on-year growth for the first time in six years.
A man waits for customers at a school and business uniform store on Emei Street in Taipei’s Ximending shopping area yesterday. Business has been poor these days with very few customers, as a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert has been extended until June 28, while schools remain closed, the man said.
TESTING BOTTLENECK: A researcher said manufacturers face potential downward price corrections in Q4, with sales likely to fall after reopenings in the US and Europe
A shortage of driver ICs for large displays is expected to persist through the end of this year due to stay-at-home demand for computers and information technology (IT) devices, market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said yesterday. Demand for display driver ICs (DDI) for large displays is to grow 7.4 percent year-on-year this year, outpacing growth in supply of 2.5 percent as chipmakers allocated some 8-inch wafer capacity for higher-margin chips, TrendForce said in a report. Chinese firms Nexchip Semiconductor Corp (晶合集成) and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (中芯國際) are boosting DDI capacity, but the scant increase is unlikely to alleviate supply constraints until the end of this year, it said. “Benefiting from the COVID-19 pandemic-induced stay-at-home economy, demand for IT products continues to increase in 2021. That leads to rising demand for DDI,” TrendForce said. The supply-demand imbalance is to increase 8-inch foundry prices further next quarter, prompting chip suppliers to again adjust prices for DDIs for large displays, the report said. Shortages of timing controllers (TCON), another key component in display production, is also posing a challenge to flat-panel shipments, it said. Scarcity of high-end TCONs is particularly severe due to capacity tightness at foundry service providers and chip testers, it said. High-end TCONs are usually made on 12-inch fabs and require more testing time than regular TCONs, it added. Overall, there is a slim chance that there will be sufficient supply of DDI for large displays over the next 12 months as long as 8-inch fabs remain fully loaded, TrendForce said. Supply of large-display DDI and high-end TCON is crucial to the display industry’s overall supply-demand dynamics next year, it said. In spite of key component shortages, prices of flat panels have started to show signs of weakening, as prolonged price hikes wiped out profits for TV makers, and demand for mainstream 32-inch and 43-inch TV panels also showed
Dumpling chain Bafang Yunji International Co’s (八方雲集) application to list on the nation’s main bourse was approved on Tuesday, the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE) said. The company trades its shares on the Emerging Stock Board, a preparatory board for the nation’s two main bourses. Bafang Yunji reported revenue of NT$5.18 billion (US$187.06 million) for the whole of last year, up 7.27 percent from 2019. Net profit rose 30.57 percent year-on-year to NT$633 million last year, or record earnings per share of NT$10.55, company data showed. In the first quarter of this year, revenue grew 16.76 percent annually to NT$1.4 billion, although net profit fell 8 percent from a year earlier to NT$138 million due to rising costs and expenses. Earnings per share were NT$2.3. Bafang Yunji’s revenue remained stable in the first quarter, as most of its meals can be packaged, taken out or delivered, allowing business to remain brisk regardless of the COVID-19 situation, underwriter Cathay Securities Co (國泰證券) said in a statement. Sixty to 70 percent of the company’s food provided in the first quarter was takeout or delivered, Cathay Securities said. Bafang Yunji also operates coffee-shop chain Dante Coffee and Foods Co (丹堤咖啡), and pork rice chain Liang She Han (梁社漢排骨) in Taiwan, as well as boxed meal vendor Bai Fung Bento (百芳池上便當) and Bafang Noodles (八方台式麵屋) in Hong Kong.
Taiwan remained the fifth-largest net creditor in the world at the end of last year as the nation’s net international investment position (NIIP) reached a new high, the central bank said on Tuesday. NIIP is the difference between a country’s external financial assets and its external financial liabilities. At the end of last year, Taiwan’s external assets totaled US$2.492 trillion and its external liability was US$1.121 trillion. These figures meant that Taiwan’s NIIP reached a record of US$1.371 trillion, up US$23.25 billion — or 1.7 percent — from a year earlier, the bank said. External liability includes government and private debt, with external assets held by public entities and legal residents also taken into account for NIIP calculations. The bank said that Taiwan’s NIIP trailed Japan’s US$3.7210 trillion, Germany’s US$3.1280 trillion, Hong Kong’s US$2.1528 trillion and China’s US$2.1503 trillion. Hong Kong rose one notch in the rankings, replacing China as the third-largest net creditor worldwide as the territory’s assets rose and liability fell, the central bank said. Taiwan’s net assets at the end of last year rose 10.5 percent from a year earlier, with life insurance companies holding more foreign securities, the bank said. Taiwan’s net liability rose 23.5 percent, as the value of securities held by foreign investors expanded significantly, it said. Last year, the TAIEX soared 22.8 percent from a year earlier, largely driven by ample liquidity, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, it said. In addition to a high-flying equity market, the expanded external liability also resulted from an improved bond market, further pushing up the value of assets held by foreign investors, it said. The US remained the largest net debtor in the world at the end of last year, with external liabilities hitting a new high of more than US$14 trillion, the central bank said.
Taiwan shares yesterday closed lower as investors turned cautious ahead of the results of a US Federal Reserve policymaking meeting later in the day, while the settlement date for futures contracts for this month also led to volatility on the spot market throughout the session, dealers said. After Tuesday’s rally of 0.92 percent, the main board fell into consolidation mode yesterday as investors waited for the outcome of the Fed meeting, dealers said. “Although few in the market expect the Fed to announce tighter liquidity at the meeting, many still expect the US central bank to address possible inflationary pressure, which could dictate its monetary policy in the future,” Hua Nan Securities Co (華南永昌證券) analyst Kevin Su (蘇俊宏) said, referring to a 5 percent spike in the US consumer price index for last month. “Before the Fed speaks, many investors at home and abroad preferred to cut their holdings to avoid more losses down the road,” Su said. The New Taiwan dollar fell against the US dollar yesterday, down NT$0.039 to close at NT$27.691. Turnover of the NT dollar totaled US$1.026 billion during the trading session, central bank data showed. The TAIEX closed down 63.43 points, or 0.37 percent, at 17,307.86, on turnover of NT$567.565 billion (US$20.5 billion). Foreign institutional investors sold a net NT$18.18 billion of shares on the main board yesterday, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed. The futures settlement yesterday was likely the reason for the foreign institutional selling, dealers said. The bellwether electronics sector fell 0.61 percent as investors locked in profits built a session earlier. “In Taiwan, the electronics sector became the target of the selling, but the downturn was not intolerable,” Su said. Semiconductors led the entire tech sector to move lower, with contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) down 0.66 percent to NT$605 after a 1.27 percent drop in its US depositary receipts
A temporary worker surnamed Chou on Zhongxiao E Road in Taipei yesterday holds an advertisement for a new real-estate project. Chou said that job opportunities have shrunk amid a nationwide COVID-19 alert and his income has dropped as the housing market has chilled.
UNCERTAINTY: Growth in retail sales and fixed-asset investment also lagged expectations, amid concern over the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic recovery
Growth in China’s factory output slowed for a third straight month last month, possibly due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 outbreaks in the nation’s southern export powerhouse of Guangdong. The Chinese economy has largely shaken off the gloom from the COVID-19-induced slump last year, but officials yesterday said that the foundations for the recovery are not yet secure amid challenges including rising raw material prices and global supply chain disruptions, especially a shortage of microchips. Industrial production grew 8.8 percent last month from a year earlier, slower than the 9.8 percent uptick in April, Chinese National Bureau of Statistics data showed. That missed a 9 percent year-on-year rise forecast by analysts from a Reuters poll. Most China watchers had expected some moderation in output last month due to softer export orders, higher cost pressures for factories and tighter environmental restrictions on heavy industry. However, underlying activity still appears solid, even if headline growth figures are heavily distorted by comparisons with the pandemic plunge early last year, they said. Outbreaks of COVID-19 in the Pearl River Delta since late last month have brought some key ports to a standstill, economists at Nomura Holdings Inc said in a note to clients, although it believes the current spate of infections can be contained in a relatively short period of time and backlogs cleared. Retail sales increased 12.4 percent year-on-year last month, bureau data showed. Last month’s figure was weaker than the 13.6 percent growth expected by analysts and down from the 17.7 percent jump seen in April. Chinese consumer and business confidence has been picking up, thanks to pent-up demand and quickening vaccine rollouts, which are also reviving domestic tourism. Although the economy “maintained stable recovery,” there were also “uncertainties in the current global economic recovery and epidemic prevention and control,” the bureau said. Adding to the weakness in retail sales was
Lina Khan, an antitrust researcher focused on big tech’s immense market power, was sworn in on Tuesday as chair of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a victory for progressives seeking a clampdown on tech firms that hold a hefty share of a growing sector of the economy. Hours earlier, the US Senate had confirmed Khan, with bipartisan support. She recently taught at Columbia Law School. Previously, as a staffer for the US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary’s antitrust panel, she helped write a massive report alleging abuses of market dominance by Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Google parent Alphabet Inc. “We applaud [US] President [Joe] Biden and the Senate for recognizing the urgent need to address runaway corporate power,” advocacy group Public Citizen said in a statement. US Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter that the administration’s selection of Khan was “tremendous news.” “With Chair Khan at the helm, we have a huge opportunity to make big, structural change by reviving antitrust enforcement and fighting monopolies that threaten our economy, our society, and our democracy,” Warren said in a separate statement. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, whose board includes representatives from tech companies, issued a statement warning that a “populist approach to antitrust” would “cause lasting self-inflicted damage that benefits foreign, less meritorious rivals.” The US federal government and groups of states are pursuing various lawsuits and investigations into big tech companies. The FTC has sued Facebook and is investigating Amazon. The US Department of Justice has sued Google. Ahead of Khan’s appointment, Google and Amazon declined comment, while Apple and Facebook did not respond to a request for comment. In 2017, Khan wrote a highly regarded article, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” for the Yale Law Journal. It argued that the traditional antitrust focus on price was inadequate to identify antitrust harms done
FED WATCH: Foreign currency holdings in Asia’s fastest-growing economies hit US$5.82 trillion last month, as central banks in the region brace for a Fed taper or rate increase
Asia’s emerging economies have accumulated their highest level of foreign-exchange reserves since 2014, offering a powerful buffer against market volatility if the US Federal Reserve changes course. Central bank holdings of foreign currencies in the region’s fast-growing emerging economies hit US$5.82 trillion as of last month, their highest since August 2014. When China’s cash pile is stripped out, emerging Asian central banks’ reserves stood at an all-time high of US$2.6 trillion. While some of the gains reflect US dollar weakness and bumper exports, policymakers are deliberately preparing their defenses, ING Groep NV economist Nicholas Mapa said in Manila. “Emerging economies are definitely learning from the past by war-chesting,” Mapa said. “They’re all the more aware of the eventual reversal in monetary policy stance of developed market central banks and the potential repercussions that may arise from a Fed taper or eventual rate hike.” While the Fed is expected to maintain a dovish outlook when it meets this week, economists say the accelerating US recovery means the bank would need to signal a policy turn sooner than anticipated. Central banks in South Korea and New Zealand already have said their improving economies might eventually justify higher interest rates. A signal from then-Fed chairman Ben Bernanke in 2013 that the US central bank would begin winding down asset purchases sent shockwaves through Asia, an episode that came to be known as the “Taper Tantrum.” Foreign investors fled and bond yields shot up, forcing central banks to burn through their defenses to protect their currencies. Rising yields have historically triggered currency volatility and driven up borrowing costs in the region. Any hint of a Fed shift on tapering would quickly test defenses, including current-account surpluses and foreign-exchange holdings, Scotiabank head of Asia-Pacific economics Tuuli McCully said. “There are significant differences between regional countries, and some will be more vulnerable than
For 10 of the world’s biggest banks, past transgressions in the EU look set to cost them millions of US dollars in fees. Companies including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc, Bank of America Corp and Barclays PLC have been frozen out of syndicating bond sales for the European Commission’s 800 billion euros (US$970 billion) NextGenerationEU program, which is expected to issue 80 billion euros of debt this year. The banks have been temporarily barred from the lucrative trades as the bloc assesses whether they have done enough to fix previous breaches of antitrust rules. The move has the potential to reshape debt league tables for the region, hand hefty fees to smaller competitors and even weigh on bankers’ bonuses. The 20-billion-euro issuance on Tuesday by the bloc — the largest amount the EU has raised in a single transaction — might have generated more than US$20 million in fees, estimates by Bloomberg showed. The banks affected are a Who’s Who of global banking, with Deutsche Bank AG, Nomura Holdings Inc, UniCredit SpA, NatWest Group PLC, Natixis SA and Credit Agricole SA also barred. “These banks have to demonstrate and to prove that they have taken all the necessary remedial actions which have been demanded by the commission when deciding about these cases,” European Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn told reporters on Tuesday. “We now expect the submission of the necessary information, and then of course we have to analyze and assess it. I cannot predict how long it takes.” While the exclusion is unlikely to make or break the trading year for most desks, the scale of the missed fees could snowball. Another two syndications are due before the end of next month. The EU’s big-ticket transactions account for a large part of banks’ business in the European market for new
French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday outlined an ambitious push for Europe to create 10 technology giants worth 100 billion euros (US$121 billion) each in valuation by 2030, in a bid to rival US companies that dominate the sector. “We have to build a stronger European ecosystem, and entrepreneurs must push governments to be more efficient than we are,” Macron said in remarks delivered in English and French, while receiving about 100 European investors and entrepreneurs and a dozen ministers at an event aimed at boosting the continent’s digital sector. “We have to build stronger European champions,” that can compete with global giants based in China and the US, he added. The goals are part of a Europe-wide initiative France is trying to lead to improve funding for start-ups, especially in their later stages of growth, to propel them into a bigger league where they can attract more investors and top staff. Macron has pushed to make France into a “start-up nation” since coming to power in 2017, rendering the country more attractive to foreign investors through labor reforms, for example. However, French efforts to create “unicorns,” or US$1 billion companies, are still overshadowed by US equivalents. Macron last year said that he expected France to have 25 “unicorns” by 2025. The latest plan to help European start-ups includes ramping up funding schemes through EU-wide finances and by encouraging more venture capital funds to invest, according to a manifesto signed by about 200 businesses, which includes a start-up association and other companies. They also recommended modernizing regulations in Europe, as well as creating competitive stock option schemes, as part of initiatives to scale up European technology firms. France is to take over the rotating EU presidency next year and Macron wants to use the opportunity to create a European technical visa to draw foreign talent. He
REAL ESTATE HKL converts upscale office The biggest landlord in Hong Kong’s Central business district is opening its first flexible office space in one of its premium buildings to capture the demand for agile workplace leasing. Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd (HKL, 香港置地) converted two floors in Edinburgh Tower into a 320-desk flexible workspace, which opened its doors yesterday. Leasing term in the office ranges from as short as three months to three years. HKL said the space mainly targets financial companies and professional services. An unnamed international financial institution has rented a suite, it said. JAPAN May exports surge 49.6% Exports last month surged 49.6 percent from last year’s dismal level, as record jumps in shipments to the US and Europe helped boost an economy still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic at home, data released yesterday by the Ministry of Finance showed. The figures were largely in line with the median forecast from analysts. Shipments of vehicles and auto parts more than doubled, despite a shortage of semiconductors that has crimped vehicle production in the US and other markets. Shipments to the US gained 87.9 percent, those to the EU climbed 69.6 percent and exports to China climbed 23.6 percent. VEHICLES UK in EV battery talks The British government is in talks with six companies to build gigafactories to produce electric vehicle (EV) batteries, the Financial Times reported yesterday, citing people briefed on the discussions. Ford Motor Co, Nissan Motor Co, LG Corp, Samsung Electronics Co, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report said. The government’s plan to prohibit the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030 and hybrids by 2035 would require the nation’s vehicle plants to shift to producing electric models. REAL
FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE? Falling business orders and profit are the most serious challenges, despite clear order visibility in the previous six months, a survey said
Orders and profit margin at local manufacturers are under pressure as a COVID-19 outbreak is helping to push raw material prices and shipping rates to unbearable levels, a Chinese National Federation of Industries (全國工業總會) survey released yesterday showed. The Taipei-based trade federation said that it polled member companies from May 28 to Wednesday last week, with 65.53 percent of respondents saying that orders declined and 63.58 percent reporting profit erosion since the outbreak began. The survey results are bleak compared with Ministry of Economic Affairs data that showed export orders in April soared 33.9 percent from a month earlier to US$54.93 billion. Export orders are an indicator of actual exports in the following one to three months. “Manufacturers named business orders and profit declines as the most serious challenges they face, despite clear order visibility in the previous six months,” the survey said, adding that it remains to be seen if the downturn will be short-lived or a fundamental change. Retreats in business orders and profit usually go hand-in-hand, but many firms are blaming profit erosion on incessant rises in raw material prices and shipping costs over the past one-and-a-half-years, it said. Costs for pig iron rose 8 percent, printed pamphlets soared 30 percent and paper cartons increased 35 percent, the federation said. Customers at home and abroad have turned cautious about placing orders after virus infections escalated in Taiwan, it said, citing manufacturers of information and communications devices as an example. Local textile suppliers are facing a slowdown in business before they have emerged from the pains of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and the US, the federation said. Only a few companies said that they have not been affected by the domestic outbreak, because they supply raw materials and have increased prices, the survey said. A packaging company said in the survey that although its business is showing
COVID-19 TESTING: A spokesman said that the firm can analyze up to 10,000 samples a day, while the maximum number of samples collected in Taipei daily is about 2,000
Kim Forest Enterprise Co (金萬林), which focuses on molecular testing, yesterday reported that revenue last month doubled from a year earlier to a record NT$54.04 million (US$1.95 million) as domestic demand for COVID-19 testing rose amid an outbreak in Taiwan. Almost half of the revenue was generated by a laboratory established to assist hospitals in Taipei with COVID-19 testing, as hospitals did not have enough staff to handle the rising number of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, Kim Forest spokesman Vincent Yang (楊文明) told the Taipei Times by telephone. Although samples must be collected by doctors or nurses, as the invasive process requires a long swab to be inserted into the subject’s nasal cavity, laboratory technologists can conduct certain steps including extracting samples and testing, Yang said. As Kim Forest produces test kits for SARS-CoV-2 — which causes COVID-19 — supplies its own PCR machines and is an agent for foreign-made PCR machines, its labs have ample capacity to facilitate testing, he said. “We can analyze up to 10,000 samples a day, which is more than is needed, as the maximum number of samples collected in Taipei in a day is about 2,000,” Yang said. Kim Forest’s labs have worked with the government’s COVID-19 testing program and several private companies that paid to have their employees tested, with help from hospitals, he said. Although the lab entity is not a company, Kim Forest owns it, so could still recognize the revenue into its consolidated figures, he said. Twenty percent of last month’s revenue was from sales of detection kits, Yang said, adding that many hospitals purchased kits from the firm, as they have been granted emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration. Moreover, its kits can be used with many styles of diagnosis machines, he said. “The revenue structure is different from last year, when the
Local start-ups would not be left behind in the government’s Stimulus 4.0 COVID-19 relief package, as the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration has set up a special office for them, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday. The announcement came after the ministry and the National Development Council on Friday last week discussed in a videoconference with several industry representatives how to support local start-ups amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan. “We realized that some start-ups do not fall into the traditional categories that were receiving assistance as part of the Stimulus 4.0 package,” Small and Medium Enterprise Administration Deputy Director-General Betty Hu (胡貝蒂) said by telephone. For instance, an operator of a scooter-sharing app service might not qualify for relief measures if the company sought assistance from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Hu said. To make sure that some start-ups’ digital businesses that cover multiple industries, but are difficult to categorize can still receive funds, the agency has set up the office to assist start-ups with help similar to what businesses in other categories receive, she said. “The requirements are the same as for many other businesses,” Hu said. “Their revenue for any month from May to next month must show a fall of more than 50 percent compared with either that month last year or the average for March and April.” There are approximately 2,800 registered start-ups in Taiwan, with some already qualified for relief funds, such as online merchandisers, she said. “A few hundred” might benefit from the new office’s assistance, she said. In addition, as with other businesses, fulltime employees of start-ups will receive wage subsidies, while those renting office space at the Start-up Terrace in New Taipei City’s Linkou District (林口), as well as at incubators at the Nangang Software Park (南港軟體工業園區), the Southern Taiwan Science Park (南部科學工業園) and the Kaohsiung Software