Taiwan’s export orders for the whole of last year declined 1.1 percent annually to US$666.8 billion, ending two consecutive years of gains, as benefits from the COVID-19 pandemic faded and drastic interest rate hikes started to gain traction, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday. Export orders for last month tumbled 23.2 percent year-on-year to US$52.17 billion, as supply chains were affected by inventory adjustments and sluggish end-market demand, the ministry said. However, last month’s export orders fared better than expected, thanks to rush orders facilitated by China ditching its “zero COVID” policy, Department of Statistics Director Huang Yu-ling (黃于玲) said. Specifically, demand for TV panels showed signs of stabilizing, she said. Export orders, which foretell actual shipments one to three months beforehand, have contracted for four straight months. The decline is forecast to accelerate by 32.1 to 35.5 percent this month, as the global economic slowdown drags on sales of consumer electronics, Huang said. “Economic challenges loom, after driving the critical gauge to contraction zone for the whole of last year,” Huang said, adding that US-China technology disputes were among the downside risks. Estimated at US$38 billion to US$40 billion, this month’s export orders could be pulled down by soft demand for electronics used in smartphones and notebook computers, Huang said. Export orders could retreat, even though demand for advanced chips used in high-performance computing, 5G devices, electric vehicles and emerging applications remains healthy, she said. The timing of the Lunar New Year holiday — which fell entirely in January — would also affect export orders this month, Huang added. As for China’s economic situation, it would be better to postpone judgement until next month after the Lunar New Year holiday effect settles, Huang said. Orders from Europe are expected to falter this quarter, while the US and ASEAN markets could benefit from the realignment of supply
FIRMS HOPEFUL: While the think tank lowered its forecast for exports, saying they would rise 1.13% this year, business confidence among manufacturers rose last month
The Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER, 台灣經濟研究院) yesterday cut its forecast for Taiwan’s GDP growth this year to 2.58 percent, down 0.33 percentage points from its previous projection, saying that global inflation and monetary tightening would slow foreign trade and private investment. High inflation would affect the global economy, curtailing demand for goods and services, which would have a negative impact on Taiwan’s exports, TIER president Chang Chien-yi (張建一) said. Tech and non-tech firms would struggle to digest a glut of inventory in the first half of this year, and it remains to be seen whether demand will recover afterward, Chang said, adding that the global economic landscape looks murky in light of the Ukraine war and other uncertainties. Exports are expected to increase 1.13 percent this year, while imports would grow 1.25 percent — a downward revision of 1.22 percentage points and 0.54 percentage points respectively, the think tank said. US technology titans Google, Microsoft Corp, Amazon.com Inc and other companies have laid off more than 70,000 employees, as digital advertisers are spending less and rising inflation is curbing consumer expenditure. TIER said that private consumption would support Taiwan’s economy this year, as it is expected to increase 5.95 percent, up 1.63 percentage points from its prediction in November last year. Relaxed COVID-19 restrictions have been fueling a quick recovery for service-oriented businesses, especially in the hospitality and tourism sectors, the institute said. Private investment would lend limited support to domestic demand, and is expected to increase 2.3 percent from last year, as inventory corrections appear bigger and are lasting longer than expected, prompting firms to become conservative about capital spending, it said. However, business confidence among local manufacturers rose 0.81 points last month to 85.16, TIER found in a separate survey. TIER Macroeconomic Forecasting Center director Gordon Sun (孫明德) attributed the uptick to China ditching
More than one-quarter of employees in Taiwan have to deal with company business outside working hours, putting in an average of 4.7 hours off the clock every month, an annual survey released yesterday by the Ministry of Labor said. The survey, which was conducted from June 2021 to May last year and focused on workers’ living and employment conditions, found that 25.2 percent of respondents worked off the clock, one percentage point higher than in the ministry’s previous survey. Off-the-clock activities were defined as receiving work-related messages from employers via electronic communication methods, such as phones, mobile phone apps and social media, after getting off work, the ministry said. Employees who received work-related messages worked an average of 4.7 hours per month beyond their regular working hours, up 0.1 hours from the previous survey. Of the respondents, 42 percent worked overtime, down 4.3 percentage points from the previous survey, but their average overtime hours rose 0.1 hours to 15 hours. By industry, overtime work was most common in the electricity and natural gas supply sectors, with 58.6 percent of respondents in those sectors working overtime, followed by workers in the public administration and national defense/compulsory social insurance sectors with 54.8 percent. Those working in the professional, scientific and technical services sectors placed third with 54.7 percent, and those in the publishing, audio-visual and information and communications sectors were fourth with 54.2 percent. Of the respondents, 84.1 percent who worked overtime were paid for it or given paid time off. Meanwhile, 73.4 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with their overall employment conditions, up 0.9 percentage points from the previous survey. Gender equality, good working relationships and supervisors’ concern for employees were the three areas that the majority of respondents considered satisfactory. Wages, employee performance appraisals and promotion systems, and workloads were the three major causes of job dissatisfaction,
Sony Group Corp dramatically reduced projections for the launch of its PlayStation VR2 (PSVR2) headset after early preorders disappointed, signaling little improvement for the hyped but unproven virtual reality (VR) sector. The company halved its forecast for shipments of the PSVR2, which is set for a Feb. 22 release, this quarter to about 1 million units, people familiar with its deliberations said. The Tokyo-based electronics giant has told a supply partner to expect reduced display panel orders, said the people, who asked not to be named as the information is not public. Sony shares erased gains after the news in Tokyo yesterday, ending the day just below where they started. Globally, consumers have taken to VR less rapidly than initially hoped. After diving last year, worldwide shipments of augmented and VR headsets are expected to grow 32 percent to 12.8 million units this year, IDC estimates showed. The market is dominated by Meta Platforms Inc’s Quest range, with nearly an 85 percent share, while Sony does not rank among the top five and its first-generation PSVR has failed to secure even a 1 percent share. The PSVR2 works only with Sony’s PlayStation 5 console, which starts at US$399. The headset is priced at US$549. The new hardware’s pricing might have blunted consumer appetite. With less than a month to go until the PSVR2’s release, most stores are still taking preorders without a wait list, whereas hotly anticipated gaming gadgets are usually in short supply at launch. A Sony spokesperson declined to comment as the company does not discuss its product inventory. The new headset’s cost and incompatibility with other consoles would likely confine it to niche status, analysts said. “The PSVR2 will be no more than an expensive accessory for the PS5,” Macquarie Capital analyst Damian Thong said.
Hong Kong is sticking with a plan to become Asia’s digital-asset capital despite the industry’s tarnished reputation, a stance drawing tentative interest from bruised crypto firms looking for paths to recovery. The territory said that it would learn from the US$2 trillion crypto market rout and a spate of global bankruptcies, such as the collapse of the FTX exchange, to create a fresh regulatory framework that can protect investors and encourage growth. The three-month-old pivot toward fostering a crypto sector is part of a wider effort to restore Hong Kong’s credentials as a financial center after COVID-19 curbs and political unrest sparked a brain drain. Hong Kong’s crypto plan includes a mandatory exchange licensing regime due in June and a consultation on allowing retail trading. Officials have also permitted exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and three such ETFs launched since mid-December last year have raised more than US$80 million. However, digital-asset businesses have been retrenching of late, posing an obstacle to the territory’s push. Matrixport Technologies Pte, a crypto lender with about 300 staff, is among the firms assessing Hong Kong’s evolving rulebook. Its home base of Singapore is now so wary of virtual coins that it might ban retail-token lending altogether. Matrixport is already evaluating the possibility of setting up in Hong Kong, even as it awaits the outcome of a Singapore virtual-asset license application, people familiar with the matter said. Gauging the likely return on the needed investment is difficult because Hong Kong’s rules are still evolving, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private. “Companies are interested in the prospective crypto regime, but also hesitant pending more details,” Bloomberg Intelligence ETF analyst Rebecca Sin said. Sin pointed to longer-term potential for asset managers if a currently limited program allowing Chinese investors to buy some stock ETFs in Hong Kong is one day
The Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE) is planning to open an office in Vietnam to attract investment from the Southeast Asian market, TWSE chairman Sherman Lin (林修銘) said on Monday. It would be the exchange’s first overseas office, he added. The Vietnam office would serve Taiwanese firms and foreign investors, such as those from Vietnam or Thailand, assisting them with investments in Taiwan, Lin said. Before the office opens, the TWSE would begin working with foreign brokerages in Vietnam to solicit funds for investment in Taiwan, he said. The exchange has sought to attract investors from Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the US and Europe by working with financial institutions in those regions, Lin said. Whether foreign institutional investors still favor local stocks is up for debate, as they sold a net NT$1.29 trillion (US$42.93 billion) of shares on Taiwan’s stock market last year, a record high, TWSE data showed. They mostly sold local tech and financial stocks amid aggressive US Federal Reserve rate hikes. Among all Asian markets, foreign institutional investors sold the most Taiwan shares, followed by India, where they sold a net US$17 billion of shares, and South Korea, where they sold a net US$9.6 billion of shares, PGIM Securities Investment Trust Enterprise Co (保德信投信) data showed. However, foreign institutional investors still account for more than 40 percent of the market’s capitalization, an indication of the importance of foreign investment in Taiwan’s main board, Lin said. Combined sales of shares from companies listed on the TWSE and the Taipei Exchange rose 5 percent for the whole of last year, and combined pretax profit was up 9 percent in the first three quarters, even though the weakening global economy dragged on Taiwan’s economy last year. Meanwhile, the TWSE plans to recategorize companies listed on the main board to keep up with the fast-changing economy. It aims to introduce new categories, such
People look at newly released books at the Taipei International Book Exhibition at the Taipei World Trade Center yesterday. The book fair runs through Sunday.
POTENTIAL TURNING POINT: The figure is based on China reopening, and growth in the US and Europe, with the IMF’s chief economist saying recession risks had subsided
The IMF yesterday raised its global growth outlook for this year slightly due to “surprisingly resilient” demand in Europe and the US, an easing of energy costs and the reopening of China’s economy after Beijing abandoned its strict COVID-19 restrictions. The IMF said global growth would still fall to 2.9 percent this year from 3.4 percent last year, but its latest World Economic Outlook forecasts mark an improvement from an October prediction of 2.7 percent growth this year with warnings that the world could easily tip into recession. IMF chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas said that recession risks had subsided, and central banks are making progress in controlling inflation, but more work is needed to curb prices, and new disruptions could come from further escalation of the war in Ukraine and China’s battle against COVID-19. “We have to sort of be prepared to expect the unexpected [this year], but it could well represent a turning point, with growth bottoming out and then inflation declining,” Gourinchas told reporters. The IMF expects US GDP growth of 1.4 percent for this year, up from 1 percent predicted in October last year and following 2 percent growth last year. The eurozone has made similar gains, with growth for the bloc this year now forecast at 0.7 percent, versus 0.5 percent in the October outlook, and following 3.5 percent growth last year, the IMF said. Europe has adapted to higher energy costs more quickly than expected, and an easing of energy prices has helped the region, it said. The UK is the only major advanced economy the IMF predicted could fall into recession this year, with a 0.6 percent decline in GDP as households struggle with rising living costs, including for energy and mortgages. The IMF revised China’s growth outlook sharply higher for this year, to 5.2 percent from 4.4 percent in the
US President Joe Biden’s administration is considering cutting off Huawei Technologies Co (華為) from all of its US suppliers, including Intel Corp and Qualcomm Inc, as Washington intensifies a crackdown on the Chinese technology sector. Sales from US firms to Huawei have been limited for four years since former US president Donald Trump added the Shenzhen, China-based company to the US “entity list” out of national security concerns. US suppliers have since required government approval to sell to the telecom equipment giant. Now, some officials in the Biden administration are advocating a ban on all sales to Huawei — which has long been suspected of having ties to the Beijing government and Chinese military — as Washington debates whether and how to adjust its licensing policy, people familiar with the matter said. The people asked not to be identified because a decision has not been made public. Tensions with China have been rising throughout Biden’s presidency, and he is under pressure from Republicans controlling the US House of Representatives to continue squeezing Beijing, particularly to limit the country’s technological advances. Huawei was once one of the world’s largest buyers of electronic components and a hugely important part of the supply chain because of its position in the handset and networking equipment industries. Trump’s ban on certain sales crippled the Chinese company, while wiping out huge amounts of revenue for US suppliers such as Broadcom Inc, but the US Department of Commerce continued to allow some other products to be supplied to Huawei. The company remains a US$100 billion behemoth that is spearheading the expansion of the world’s largest 5G network at home, while aiding the construction of critical broadband from Africa to the Middle East. In December last year, the firm said that it was “business as usual” after successfully weathering US tech sanctions. Under
‘A LIE’: The conglomerate has denied the accusations, but founder Gautam Adani has still lost enough to drop from third-richest person in the world to eighth
Investors yesterday dumped more Adani Group shares, worsening the carnage at India’s biggest conglomerate, which has already lost about US$70 billion in value after allegations of “brazen” corporate fraud. The latest losses came as a stock sale aimed at raising US$2.5 billion was due to close later in the day, with only 21 percent of the offer subscribed by midday, the firm said. Adani founder Gautam Adani, 60, was the world’s third-richest person last week, but has slipped to eighth position on Forbes’ tracker after his personal fortune lost more than US$36 billion. Shares in Adani Total Gas declined the most yesterday, with trading halted for another session after diving 10 percent in the morning. The natural gas distribution company — of which France’s TotalEnergies SE owns 37.4 percent — has lost 45 percent in market value over the past week. Adani Power and Adani Wilmar also hit their circuit breakers after falling 5 percent each, while Adani Green Energy traded 2.58 percent lower. Adani Transmission and Adani Ports and SEZ inched higher, while the flagship Adani Enterprises regained some lost ground, trading 3.5 percent higher, but Adani Enterprises shares remained well below the 3,112 to 3,276 rupee price range set for the follow-on public offer, making them cheaper to buy in the open market. However, Abu Dhabi-based International Holding Co (IHC) gave the group a vote of confidence, on Monday saying that it would buy 16 percent of the shares on offer, paying US$400 million to do so. This makes up most of the 21 percent that the Indian firm said was subscribed by midday. The slump in Adani’s stocks was sparked by a report from US investment group Hindenburg Research that last week alleged a “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over the course of decades.” Adani’s conglomerate said it was the victim of a “maliciously mischievous”
US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said persistently weak inflation is likely to return as a long-term challenge for the economy and policymakers once COVID-19-era distortions behind the recent surge subside and prices cool. “We’re just coming through an unusual and difficult period, but I do not think we’re in any way back to the ’80s and ’70s,” she said in an interview, referring to an era of rising prices and wages. Yellen, along with US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and many in the US economic establishment, incorrectly predicted in 2021 that the burst of inflation would be “transitory.” She has since admitted getting that call wrong and supported the Fed’s efforts to rein in prices with aggressive interest rate hikes, which risk pushing the US into a recession. Yellen said that unlike in the 1970s and early 1980s, this episode of high inflation has not triggered a wage-price spiral, a dynamic in which workers demand raises in anticipation of higher prices, prompting firms to increase prices. Economists look for signs of such a spiral in inflation expectations. “Expectations have been well-anchored, and I believe they’re still pretty well anchored,” she said in the interview in Johannesburg on Friday, on the final leg of a three-nation visit to Africa. “So we’re not seeing a wage-price spiral. That’s not happening.” The annual increase in the consumer price index topped out at 9.1 percent in June last year, but slowed to 6.5 percent as of last month in response to the Fed’s rate hikes, as well as easing supply chain stresses and sliding oil prices. Former US secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers and former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff are among those who have warned the world’s economy is entering a period of geopolitical tensions and debt crises that risk making episodes of high inflation
Boeing Co yesterday bade farewell to an icon when it delivered its final 747 jumbo jet — the 1,574th 747 plane built in the Puget Sound region of Washington state. Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, a transport for NASA’s space shuttles and the Air Force One presidential aircraft. It revolutionized travel, connecting international cities that had never before had direct routes and helping democratize passenger flight. However, over about the past 15 years, Boeing and European rival Airbus SE have introduced more profitable and fuel-efficient wide-body planes, with only two engines to maintain instead of the 747’s four. A big crowd of current and former Boeing workers was expected for the final send-off. The last 747 jet was being delivered to cargo carrier Atlas Air Inc, which ordered four 747-8 freighters last year, with the final one leaving the factory yesterday. “If you love this business, you have been dreading this moment,” longtime aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia said. “Nobody wants a four-engine airliner anymore, but that does not erase the tremendous contribution the aircraft made to the development of the industry or its remarkable legacy.” It took more than 50,000 Boeing workers less than 16 months to churn out the first 747. The plane’s fuselage was 68.5m long and the tail stood as tall as a six-story building. The plane’s design included a second deck extending from the cockpit back over the first third of the plane, giving it a distinctive hump and inspiring a nickname, the Whale. More romantically, the 747 became known as the Queen of the Skies. “It was the first big carrier, the first wide-body, so it set a new standard for airlines to figure out what to do with
RETAIL Tesco to reshuffle workers Tesco PLC, the UK’s biggest supermarket group, yesterday said that it was changing the way it manages its larger stores, affecting about 1,750 workers. All of the UK’s major grocers are seeking to save on costs as they try to keep a lid on rising prices. Tesco said that it would introduce about 1,800 “shift leader” roles in its larger Superstores and Extra stores, and would reduce the number of “lead” and “team managers” in its large stores. The affected workers would have the option of moving to shift leader vacancies or taking redundancy. Localized changes across the UK business would affect a further 350 jobs. FRANCE GDP increases 2.6 percent The economy grew 2.6 percent for the whole of last year, data released by the government’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies statistics office found. Household spending dropped 0.9 percent in the final quarter, but imports fell 1.9 percent, outweighing a 0.3 percent dip in exports. Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno le Maire said the result was “testimony to the strong rebound of our economy after the COVID shock and its resilience in the face of the energy crisis.” Allianz economist Maxime Darmet was more skeptical. “It is a superficial resistance by the French economy. Consumption is not doing well, and such a fall in imports is not a good sign as that is saying that internal demand is really very weak,” he said. BANKING UBS beats forecasts Swiss banking giant UBS Group AG yesterday reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, although its investment bank revenues took a hit. Net profits at Switzerland’s largest bank soared 23 percent to nearly US$1.7 billion in the final quarter of last year, while its revenues came in at just more than US$8 billion, marking an 8 percent year-on-year drop. “We delivered good full-year and
A worker pulls flowers along a rail on a plantation in Tocancipa, Colombia, on Monday. Colombia is the world’s second-largest flower exporter, and millions of flowers are shipped around the world to meet demand for Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14.
UPTURN: Investors were betting that the worst was over for chipmakers, while foreign institutional investors bought NT$72.26 billion of local shares, the highest since 2005
Taiwan’s benchmark stock gauge yesterday entered a bull market as trading resumed after the Lunar New Year holiday, with a broad rebound in chip shares boosting foreign buying in the market. The New Taiwan dollar also strengthened against the US currency. The benchmark TAIEX rose 560.89 points, or 3.76 percent, to 15,493.82, its best day since May 2021, with turnover totaling NT$329.72 billion (US$10.94 billion). That took TAIEX’s gains from an October low to 22 percent, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed. Yesterday’s upturn was led by the bellwether electronics sector, especially large semiconductor stocks. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, and MediaTek Inc (聯發科), the nation’s largest handset chip designer, contributed the most to the index’s advance, closing up 7.95 percent and 6.64 percent respectively. Speculation that the US Federal Reserve is nearing the end of its aggressive interest rate hike cycle along with broad optimism in the region due to China’s reopening after easing its strict COVID-19 controls have spurred a comeback for the tech-heavy market after stocks slid for most of last year. The TAIEX fell 22.4 percent last year. Big investors including Warren Buffett are also betting that the worst is over for chipmakers amid attractive valuations and easing tensions between China and the US. Foreign institutional investors yesterday bought a net NT$72.26 billion of local shares on the main board, the highest amount since Dec. 28, 2005, when they recorded a net purchase of NT$125.28 billion, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed. Foreign funds have snapped up US$4.6 billion in shares year-to-date, Bloomberg-compiled data showed. Goldman Sachs Group Inc upgraded Taiwan to “market-weight” from “underweight” on Friday, citing positive trade exposure to China’s reopening, a strong tech cycle recovery in the second half of this year and reduced near-term geopolitical risks as among tailwinds for the market. However, markets elsewhere
Consumer confidence rebounded slightly this month due mainly to the short-term effects of the Lunar New Year holiday after four consecutive months of declines, National Central University said in a report yesterday. The consumer confidence index (CCI) rose 0.61 points from a month earlier to 59.73, the report said. The index fell to 59.12 last month, its lowest level since reaching 56.45 in September 2009, when the economy was recovering from the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. The index’s all-time low was 48.42 in February 2009 at the height of the crisis. The CCI gauges people’s confidence toward durable goods purchases, the local economic outlook, household finances, employment prospects, the stock market and consumer price fluctuations over the next six months, the report said. The report — which polled 2,900 people older than 20 from Jan. 18 to Jan. 20 — showed improvements in all sub-indices except for confidence in consumer prices. In this month’s survey, confidence in the economic outlook over the next six months rose the most, gaining 1.25 points from a month earlier to 76.85, while the sub-index for family finances moved 0.85 points higher to 71.75. Although the overall CCI and the sub-indices largely showed improvement, it was too early to say that the economy has taken a turn for the better, said Dachrahn Wu (吳大任), director of the university’s Research Center for Taiwan Economic Development. The improved confidence among Taiwanese might have come from higher spending in preparation for the Lunar New Year holiday from Jan. 20 to Sunday, creating a short-term pickup in domestic demand, he said. However, with inflation and aggressive interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve last year weighing on demand worldwide, Taiwan’s exports could be further affected this year, which would erode confidence in family finances and investment in the near term, he said. While the Fed has slowed its
MAJOR APPOINTMENT: Jun Seki is Hon Hai’s first prominent hire for its EV business, which it said it hopes will start contributing meaningful revenue this year
Hon Hai Technology Group (鴻海科技集團) yesterday named former Nidec Corp boss Jun Seki the chief strategy officer of its electric vehicle (EV) venture, making the first high-profile hire for a business the iPhone maker hopes will carve out new markets. Seki, who left Nidec last year after company founder Shigenobu Nagamori removed him as CEO, is expected to help drive one of Hon Hai’s newest priorities. The Taiwanese firm accelerated its push into the automotive industry over the past year by acquiring a pickup assembly plant from embattled Lordstown Motors Corp in the US and showcased several EV prototypes. It had not made any prominent hires before announcing the 61-year-old Seki’s appointment yesterday. Hon Hai, known as Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團) internationally, has been bolstering efforts to secure new revenue after grappling with thin margins and unprecedented COVID-19-induced challenges in China, including a violent protest at its main iPhone assembly site in Zhenzhou in November last year. The Taiwanese company expects its EV business to start contributing meaningful revenue this year, and has targeted a 5 percent market share by 2025, Hon Hai chairman Young Liu (劉揚偉) has said. Seki spent fewer than three years at the world’s biggest manufacturer of electric motors. He was demoted last year, after Nagamori blamed him for the Japanese company’s poor performance. Seki has decades of experience in automobiles, including with Nissan Motor Co and China’s Dongfeng Motor Co (東風汽車). “Mr Seki’s rich management experience in the Japanese auto industry and global EV supply chains will assist the group in integrating EV resources and development in the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East,” Hon Hai said in a statement. Seki is to report directly to Liu and his appointment is effective from tomorrow, it said.
Enimmune Corp (安特羅生技) has obtained marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its EnVAX-A71 vaccine for enterovirus 71 (EV-71), becoming the nation’s first enterovirus vaccine completely made in Taiwan, it said yesterday. After spending 13 years and NT$1.5 billion (US$49.77 million) on the research and development of the vaccine, Enimmune plans to start manufacturing and marketing it by the end of March, the company said in a statement, without disclosing customer order figures. “It is possible that the vaccine would not be included in a national vaccination program initially, and consumers would need to pay for it themselves,” parent company Adimmune Corp (國光生技) told the Taipei Times yesterday. “However, we are working with the government, and hope that this vaccine could be included in a national vaccination program for children, as EV-71 is a common pathogen that causes polio-like syndrome and can lead to severe sickness,” Adimmune said. As the vaccine would be administered to children younger than five and each child would need to have two shots, the total demand for the vaccine in Taiwan is estimated at 300,000 doses per year, the company said. EnVAX-A71 is designed to act against genotype B4 of EV-71, which is widespread in Taiwan. Enimmune has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Vietnamese state-run vaccine company to collaborate on EnVAX-A71 and is to complete a phase-three human test of the vaccine in the country in the near term. In the long term, the company aims to enter the Southeast Asian market where demand for an enterovirus vaccine could exceed 20 million doses, it said, adding that it also plans to enter the Chinese market. Enimmune’s revenue grew 72 percent year-on-year to NT$188 million last year, while Adimmune’s revenue grew 37 percent to NT$2.25 billion, companies data showed. Local rival Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗) is also developing an
Baidu Inc (百度) is planning to roll out an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot service similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a person familiar with the matter said, in what could potentially be China’s most prominent entry in a race touched off by the tech phenomenon. China’s largest search engine company plans to debut a ChatGPT-style application in March, initially embedding it into its main search services, said the person, asking to remain unidentified discussing private information. The tool, whose name has not been decided, would allow users to obtain conversation-style search results much like OpenAI’s popular platform. Baidu has spent billions of dollars researching AI in a years-long effort to transition from online marketing to deeper technology. Its Ernie system — a large-scale machine-learning model that has been trained on data over several years — is to be the foundation of its upcoming ChatGPT-like tool, the person said. A Baidu representative declined to comment. ChatGPT, OpenAI’s artificial intelligence tool, has lit up the Internet since its public debut in November last year, amassing more than 1 million users within days and touching off a debate about the role of AI in schools, offices and homes. Companies including Microsoft Corp are investing billions to try and develop real-world applications, while others are capitalizing on the hype to raise funds. Buzzfeed Inc’s shares more than doubled this month after it announced plans to incorporate ChatGPT in its content. Baidu has been trying to revive growth in the mobile era, after increasingly lagging its larger rivals in arenas such as mobile advertising, video and social media. Apart from research in AI, the search giant is also developing autonomous driving technology. Baidu CEO Robin Li (李彥宏) raised ChatGPT as an example of where the tech giant can take the lead during an internal talk last month, a transcript viewed by Bloomberg News showed. “I’m so
SHIFTING FROM CHINA: Apple’s India drive comes as New Delhi is drafting plans to offer incentives for local production of smartwatches and wireless earphones
A key Apple Inc supplier has begun making components for AirPods in India, marking a significant step in the US tech giant’s push to expand production in the country. The Indian unit of Jabil Inc has begun shipping AirPods enclosures, or plastic bodies, to China and Vietnam, where the wireless earphones are assembled, people familiar with the matter said. Apple is expanding production in India to reduce its reliance on China, where US trade restrictions and disruptions related to COVID-19 have made manufacturing more risky. Its India output has thus far been limited to the iPhone, making AirPods the second Apple product now partially manufactured in the country. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it a national priority to grow India’s manufacturing sector, providing financial incentives and government support for companies’ expansion projects. Apple has played a central role in that effort, with partners such as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) producing more iPhones in the country for the latest generation than ever before. US manufacturing services provider Jabil operates an 80,000m2 facility employing more than 2,500 workers in Pune in western India, its Web site says. Jabil representatives did not respond to a request for comment. Apple declined to comment. Apple is the world’s biggest maker of so-called true wireless stereo devices, a category that includes earphones and headphones. It shipped 23.8 million units in the third quarter of last year, taking a 31 percent market share, research firm Canalys said. While India is still some time away from getting Apple to fully manufacture AirPods locally, New Delhi has given initial clearances to more than a dozen of its Chinese suppliers to grow via joint ventures with Indian partners. Luxshare Precision Industry Co (立訊精密), one of Apple’s Chinese suppliers which makes AirPods, is among the companies gaining that approval. Apple’s India push comes as