Most US companies in Taiwan are optimistic about the nation’s economy this year and beyond, saying the COVID-19 outbreak would not affect firms in the manufacturing industry and the effect on the service sector would likely be short-lived, the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) said yesterday.
About 60 percent of respondents in a survey of AmCham members expressed confidence in Taiwan’s economic growth in the next 12 months, a sharp increase from 46 percent last year.
“The level of confidence would likely have been higher, if not for the coronavirus outbreak that erupted during the survey period” from January to Feb. 17, AmCham chairman C.W. Chin (金奇偉) said.
While a phase 1 trade deal between the US and China helped lift sentiment, Taiwan’s progress on energy and labor policies, as well as its regulatory framework, also lent support, Chin said.
The chamber is the most influential international business organization in Taiwan, with about 1,000 members from more than 500 companies in the global business community.
Member firms expressed satisfaction about how the government is coping with COVID-19, which has infected 42 people in Taiwan — less than in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, Chin said.
However, COVID-19 has dented revenue growth expectations, with 77.67 percent of respondents expecting an increase in the next 12 months, down from 80.45 percent last year, the survey found, adding that the confidence level was higher, at 86.6 percent, prior to the epidemic.
Manufacturing member firms in Taiwan have maintained normal operations, but tourism-oriented firms, such as hotels and airlines, were taking a hit, Chin said.
“Hopefully, the impact will prove short-lived once the virus is contained,” he said.
The chamber welcomed Taiwanese manufacturers moving production to the nation from China, the survey said, adding that 10.75 percent of members plan to do the same.
Of the respondents, 35 percent expect to increase their staff numbers in Taiwan this year, the group said, citing innovation and market expansion as the main sources of growth.
Cross-strait relations, energy, labor policies and trade ties with the US continue to top the list of concerns among US firms, although they were less worried about the issues than last year, Chin said.
US companies hope to see sufficient power supply and voltage stability, without steep hikes in the price of electricity, as the government seeks to phase out nuclear power by 2025, he said.
Respondents also believe that more flexibility is needed regarding regulations on working hours and overtime pay to meet the needs of a knowledge-based economy, Chin said.
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