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May 23, 2017

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Gov't caught unawares by Gou-Trump White House meet

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The government had no prior notice of Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou's meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump last week at the White House, according to Economics Minister Lee Chih-kung, Monday.

Minister Lee's remarks came during a legislative committee session addressing industrial innovation, where New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming questioned whether the government knew about Gou's intentions to focus investment overseas.

"We didn't know about the meeting before it took place," Lee said, adding that the government was well aware of Hon Hai's interest in overseas investment.

Lee says that following Gou's White House visit, the government was in contact with Hon Hai and was aware of the broad direction of the company's intentions. He said that the ministry needed to wait until the White House publicized Hon Hai's investment plans before continuing further discussions with the company.

Asked whether other large Taiwanese corporations could be ready to shift investment to the United States in order to reap the benefits of Trump's "America First" economic policies, Lee said he believed Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSCM) would remain "rooted in Taiwan."

State-run fuel supplier CPC Corp was said to be revving up possibe plans for U.S. investment.

TSMC's possible intentions in locating a new NT$500 billion 3-nanometer (nm) chip fab outside Taiwan sent government officials scrambling last month to ensure the corporation that it would provide incentives for it to keep production on the island.

Tech mogul Gou was seen exiting the White House on last Thursday after meeting Trump, later stating that his company planned to expand its investment in the United States, including projects of both capital and skilled-labor intensive industries.

Gou met Trump "to thank him for his growth and job-creation policies," according to White House officials.

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