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Shipping industry needs gov't policy reforms: chair

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) Chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東) yesterday suggested the new Cabinet to direct the policy reform in Taiwan's shipping industry.

The chairman said the central government should direct a visionary reform program to boost the international business competitiveness within the industry of transportation and logistics.

Hsu said the Cabinet should demand the nation's freighters, cruise lines and all types of ships be registered under the R.O.C. flag. Clarifying local ships' nationality can attract more international logistic companies to register in Taiwan, said the chairman.

Hsu said once there are more foreign ships registered as coming from Taiwan, the nation's competitiveness in the global shipping market will improve. He said, as an example, that all ships in U-Mine Marine Transport Corp. (裕民航運) are already registered to Taiwan.

Taiwan is already geographically competitive given its status as an island. The chairman said the government's policy on the shipping industry lacks vision. He said the new Cabinet should pay attention to the ship- and steelmaking industries so as to provide the logistics industry with a better supply chain.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said to encourage Taiwan ships to register under the nation's flag involves multiple levels of government bureaucracy.

He said to encourage local shipping agencies to register can begin with a tax-reduction incentive. He said to encourage substantial growth in the shipping industry, the government should encourage and support students who study in marine transport-related fields so they may gain more cooperative work experience during their studies.

Shipping Business is Booming

Evergreen Group Vice Chairman Bronson Hsieh (謝志堅) and Yang Ming Chairman Frank Lu (盧峰海) both said the shipping business is booming. Lu said the first and second quarters are expected to see much better performance than at the same time last year.

Hsieh said the shipping industry tends to be quiet after the Chinese New Year holidays. This year shipment orders, as well as shipment prices, are increasing, Hsieh said.

Hsieh said the global economy is recovering, and forecast 10- to 20-percent growth to shipment prices. He also said there are more new ships joining the industry, which could lead to an increase of 9 percent in shipping volume. He also said that if fuel prices can be stabilized, profits can reach their full potential, given that fuel costs make up around 25 percent of total expenses.

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