Taiwan's economic pilot zones attract $48.6m

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Free Economic Pilot Zones (FEPZ) have attracted about NT$1.16 billion (S$48.6 million) worth of investment from 15 businesses in the past six months, the National Development Council said yesterday.

In the area of "intelligent logistics," starting from August last year, the government has granted approval to eight applications to conduct value-added work in the FEPZ. The government is speeding up the approval process, as it only granted nine approvals between 2003 and 2011.

Trade volume and trade amount from the six existing free trade zones - Suao Port, Keelung Port, Taipei Port, Taichung Port, Kaohsiung Port and the Taoyuan Aerotropolis - grew 38 per cent and 33 per cent last year, respectively. The figures surpassed the 30-per cent goal set by the government.

In the area of "value-added agriculture," a total of nine companies have been approved to set up businesses in the Pingtung Agricultural Biotechnology Park: three companies specialise in biotechnology, two in organic food, one in livestock processing and three in ornamental aquariums.

In the area of "international health care," the government has set up international medical care centers at four international airports located in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung and Kaohsiung. Up until last year, 1,127 people have received services there.

Starting in October 2013, the government started to allow more people from Southeast Asian countries to visit Taiwan for medical care. Up until December last year, a total of 1,574 people from Southeastern countries visited Taiwan. Between January and October 2013, a total of 191,000 foreigners visited Taiwan for medical services, contributing NT$11.386 billion, higher than the NT$9.329 billion in 2012.

In the area of "financial services," the FEPZs have attracted Citibank and UBS to set up offices. They have both indicated the intention to transfer some services to the zone in the short term.

Offshore banking units and domestic banking units also plan to develop various financial products and services in the pilot zone. It is estimated that NT$30 million worth of related business will be created in the next five years. Banking-related businesses will also bring in additional NT$3 million worth of revenues.

As of late January, amendments to 23 of the 28 administrate regulations governing the FEPZs were completed. Rules regarding human resource movement, land control and investments have all been further relaxed. Amendments to 10 regulations governing financial services and education innovation were also completed.