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Taiwan should invest more in 'invisible assets': think tank

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan should shift more of its investment in equipment and overseas production to “invisible assets,” such as talent and intellectual property, to help upgrade its industrial structure, a Taipei-based think tank urged Tuesday.

“Although Taiwan has been increasing its investment in invisible assets over the years, the growth rate has been so slow that it's dragged down the pace at which Taiwan has upgraded its industrial structure,” said Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫), vice president of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research.

If Taiwan wants to switch from an efficiency-driven economy to an innovation-driven one, changing the focus of its investments is inevitable, he said at an international symposium on industrial park development policy in Taipei.

Taiwan had a trade surplus of US$35.54 billion in 2013 but suffered deficits in talent, foreign direct investment and intellectual property, he said, citing official statistics.

This indicates that Taiwan's products have low added value and its companies are still concentrated on original equipment manufacturing and original design manufacturing, Kung said.

“It is the reason why the nation is highly influenced by the global economic situation,” he said.

Taiwan's investment in invisible assets accounts for only 7 percent of total investment, Kung told CNA during a break in the forum, and he hoped that the ratio could be increased to 15 percent by 2020.

“It will not be easy, to be honest,” he acknowledged, saying that it will take the joint effort and integration of the public and private sectors to form “a stronger intellectual property pool.”

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