Taiwan exports too reliant on electronics: Formosa Plastics Group

FPG Chairman regrets investing in Taiwan too difficult

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan’s exports were too reliant on electronics, Formosa Plastics Group Chairman Wang Wen-yuan said Saturday, adding his regrets that his company had been unable to invest more in the country.
Addressing the group’s annual athletics meeting, Wang said Taiwan needed to diversify its manufacturing structure away from electronics if it wanted to be able to resist the global economic crisis.
Governments across the world were trying to find the right kind of measures to boost their economies, but Formosa Plastics had met with severe difficulties with its own investment plans, he said. A variety of elements had prevented the group from going ahead with the latest phase of the sixth naphtha cracker and a petrochemical plant, dashing its hopes, Wang told his employees.
The chairman said that during his trip to the United States last May, Texas Governor Rick Perry took a flight in a small plane from the state capital of Austin to visit the Formosa Plastics Group plant in Point Comfort, Texas, and have a meal there with local personalities. The place had a population of fewer than 1,000, yet Perry became the first Texas governor ever to visit there because he thought the trip important enough if it managed to attract investments, Wang said. The governor wanted to make sure that Formosa Plastics was going to invest US$2 billion (NT$58 billion) in Point Comfort, he added.
The governor of China’s Fujian Province, Su Shulin, visited Taiwan and Formosa Plastics in March and invited him over for a visit, Wang said. After a second invitation in June, Wang finally flew to Fuzhou in September with several of the group’s top managers.
Su expressed the hope that the company would expand its investments beyond a local stainless steel plant and address new sectors, Wang said.
All of US$15 billion (NT$435 billion) worth of investments over the past few years were made outside Taiwan, in China, the US and Vietnam, Wang pointed out. Because Taiwan was where the company had its roots, it really wanted also to invest more here, but because of its absence of raw materials, its high population density and its political infighting over the past few years, the country had turned into the worst performing of Asia’s Four Little Dragons, he said.
More than 40 percent of Taiwan’s exports came from the electronics sector, in comparison to South Korea’s 20 percent, where cars, petrochemicals and ships accounted for 10 percent each. Even home appliances and textiles still were viable export sectors in South Korea, which allowed the country to survive economic ups and downs, Wang said.
Government departments and local authorities should pay attention to irrational protest groups and take appropriate measures against them, Wang told employees, without elaborating.
The Formosa Plastics Group’s chemical projects in Taiwan have often faced opposition from environmental groups, who accuse the company of serious pollution and lax safety measures.