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German businesses upbeat about Taiwan's economic outlook

2017/11/30 14:44:34

Axel Limberg

Taipei, Nov. 30 (CNA) German businesses in Taiwan are much more upbeat about the economic prospects of the nation next year, with 47 percent expressing confidence the economy will grow in 2018, according to a survey released on Thursday.

Only 7 percent in the survey, conducted by the German Trade Office Taipei, were pessimistic about the economy, a sharp contrast from the same poll last year, in which 14 percent and 41 percent expressed positive and negative views, respectively.

"Things are going well," said Axel Limberg, executive director of the office, adding that the overall view of German businesses towards Taiwan remains "stable and positive."

That trend is also seen in the companies' interest in business expansion, the survey showed, with 38.46 percent of respondents indicating they are planning to open another location in Taiwan in the next two years and 12.31 percent saying they are considering the possibility.

In the survey last year, only 15.4 percent of companies had similar investment plans for the next two years.

In addition, 57 percent of respondents said their companies have met or exceeded business targets, compared with 38 percent in 2016.

However, there remain challenges to be addressed, German companies said, including a shortage of experienced labor, a clear industrial strategy and a reliable policy framework.

An example of a straightforward industrial strategy, for instance, would be Taiwan's plan for energy transition, Limberg said.

While the government has made clear it intends to shift away from nuclear power by 2025 and draw 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources, the intermediate steps to reach that goal are vague, he said.

Terence Johnsson, managing director of Volkswagen Group Taiwan, further pointed out the need for a consistent government policy framework in the field of industry innovation.

For instance, the Taiwanese government has not designated a highway zone for driverless cars to undertake road tests and collect data, which Johnsson thinks is necessary for the technology to take off, although it has acknowledged the importance of AI development.

"(A reliable government framework) would be something that is forward-looking, that allows Taiwan to generate high-tech, progressive expertise and competence at the regional and global level," he said.

Now in its 6th year, the survey was conducted from Oct. 11 to Nov. 20, with responses received from 40 percent of the 250 German companies questioned.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)