Taiwan to cut number of foreign laborers: report


AGENCIES, TAIPEI Monday, Jan 12, 2009, Page 12

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) is working on a plan to establish a new industrial park in the southern city of Kaohsiung by the middle of next year to encourage the relocation of high-tech industries and create around 2,700 jobs, economics officials said yesterday. The officials at the Export Processing Zone Administration confirmed that the ministry would submit the plan to the Cabinet in March for approval.

The 8.48-hectare tract of land for the proposed park is a former Veterans Plastics Work factory site, which is opposite the Nantze Export Processing Zone in Kaohsiung’s Nantze district.

The project would cost about NT$1.8 billion (US$32.58 million), and when it is completed in the middle of next year, high-tech and other industrial companies interested in setting up shop in the park would be able to choose plots to set up their own plants, the officials said.

The officials estimate that the industrial park will have the capacity to attract NT$10 billion in total investment, with an annual business turnover of NT$15 billion.

Meanwhile, Taiwan plans to cut the number of foreign laborers it allows local construction and manufacturing firms to hire in a bid to create jobs for locals amid the economic downturn, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The MOEA has proposed barring major public projects from employing foreign workers, the United Daily News reported yesterday.

It also proposed offering subsidies to manufacturers that employ Taiwanese workers.

The paper quoted Minister without Portfolio Tsai Tsun-hsiung (蔡勳雄) as saying 33,000 jobs could be released for Taiwanese under the plan.

Taiwan currently employs about 370,000 foreign laborers.

Tsai said the proposal would be submitted to the Cabinet for approval later this month.

Taiwan’s unemployment rate soared to a four-year high of 4.64 percent in November.

But critics question if Taiwanese are willing to take up blue-collar jobs, noting that many employers provide harsh working conditions and assign heavy workloads to foreign laborers.

Tsai said there were no plans to replace the 170,000 foreigners who work as caretakers at homes and hospitals.