Taiwanese industries should join forces in petitioning President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to reconsider its trade policies, Taichung City Laundry and Cloth Dying Industry Union chairman Cheng Chun-sung (鄭俊松) said in response to Friday’s signing of a service trade agreement between Taiwan and China.
Cheng said Taiwan’s laundry and cloth dying industry has already been severely impacted by the tepid economy and the signing of the agreement with China would only add to the problems faced by local businesses.
As the cloth dying and laundry industry has a very low capital-entry requirement and overheads are also comparatively low, the sector had been very competitive to begin with, Cheng added.
Photo: Weng Yu-huang, Taipei Times
However, the government’s failure to invigorate the economy in recent years has led to an at least 20 percent drop in clientele, Cheng said, adding that once Chinese investors start setting up businesses in Taiwan, “it would be the last straw for the sector.”
Hsiang Wei-kuo (項維國), the owner of a laundromat in Taipei, agreed with Cheng’s assessment, adding that the industry was by its nature one of low income.
“With greater financing, Chinese investors could drive local firms out of business,” Hsiang said.
The 57-year-old Hsiang said the laundromat industry has a high density in Taiwan, especially in urban areas, adding that due to strong competition, prices for clothes laundry services have fallen steadily over the past decade.
“Many store owners have also been driven out of business because they were unable to afford newer machines,” Hsiang added.
Increased awareness of environmental protection has also led a decrease in the numbers of more traditional laundry outlets, Hsiang said, adding that many of these were forced to either close or join a chain which could afford machinery designed to be more environmentally friendly.
“Chinese investors have that kind of capital [required for new machines], and would place local businesses at a disadvantage, if not threaten an outright collapse,” Hsiang said.
Another laundromat owner in Greater Taichung said that his is a small store that only makes a small profit by dint of his good-quality service and long years in business.
“The agreement the government has signed is going to open the floodgates to Chinese capital and drown Taiwanese businesses in the laundry industry,” the owner said.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese car rental companies are also protesting against the signing of the cross-strait service trade agreement, which would allow Chinese firms to invest in the industry.
An owner of a small rental company in Greater Kaohsiung which has been in business for 15 years said the industry has already weathered its first crisis after Carplus and Easyrent entered the market a decade ago.
Once Chinese investment begins to flow into the car rental sector, it could be the catalyst for a price war, the owner said, adding that this could eliminate profits.
The owner of a car rental firm in Hualien County said that when the larger rental chains moved into the county, they secured more than 50 percent of profits in the sector, adding that if Chinese investors are allowed to establish a presence in Taiwan, smaller car rental companies would be hard pressed to survive.
According to Wu Shun-chieh (吳順傑), chairman of the Taipei City Compact Car Rental Trade Union, the number of legally registered car rental agencies nationwide is between 700 and 800, although if unregistered and privately run agencies are included, then that number would easily exceed 1,000.
“Allowing Chinese investment into Taiwan would be equivalent to impacting the livelihoods of thousands of families working in the car rental industry,” Wu said.
Wu said he would be launching a signature drive with others in the industry to ask the government to come up with a set of measures to guarantee the survival of local companies.
Additional reporting by Yang Ya-min
SAFETY IN REGULATION: The proposal states that Chiayi should assess whether it is viable to establish such a district and draft rules to protect clients and sex workers The Chiayi City Council passed a motion yesterday to assess the viability of establishing a regulated red-light district. The council yesterday held its last session of the year, at which its fiscal 2024 budget was approved, along with 61 other proposals. The proposal to assess the viability of establishing a red-light district was put forward by independent Chiayi City Councilor Molly Yen (顏色不分藍綠支持性專區顏色田慎節). The proposal cited 2011 amendments to the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), which stipulate that city and county governments can pass autonomous regulations on the sex trade to manage the industry and guarantee industry workers’ rights. A ban on the
STABILITY AND CHANGE: Flagging in recent polls, Ko this week pledged to maintain President Tsai’s foreign policy, with an emphasis on improving China relations Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday reiterated that he is “deep-green at heart” in response to accusations that he is pivoting his campaign to align closer with the ideology of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the face of flagging polls. Ko made the remark at an agricultural policy conference in Taipei, repeating his comments from an interview with CTS News a day earlier. Ko told the CTS host that he would continue to pursue President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) national defense and foreign policy in general, but with an emphasis on establishing a rapport with
CHINA illness surge: Of 88 travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau with respiratory symptoms who were encouraged to get tested upon arrival, 70.6% had the flu Two hundred and sixty people with COVID-19 were hospitalized and 31 deaths related to the virus were reported last week — the highest numbers in four weeks, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday, adding that cases are expected to peak next month. CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said that of the 260 people hospitalized last week with moderate to severe COVID-19, 98 percent had not received the Omicron XBB.1.5-adapted COVID-19 vaccine. Among the people hospitalized this year, 78 percent were aged 65 or older, while most of the those who were hospitalized or died have or had
Taiwanese who have recently traveled to China for tourism, to visit friends or relatives or for business reasons have been interrogated, detained and faced other forms of unreasonable treatment from Chinese officials, a source said on Sunday. Among them was a Taiwanese who was detained for eight hours at an airport in China due to their research, which is related to religion, while others have had their travel documents for China canceled for a number of reasons, the source said. In July, China expanded the scope of its counterespionage law, and recently announced a draft amendment to the law on the protection