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Pact will not necessarily profit Chinese investors: association

TAIPEI -- Urging the student protesters occupying the Legislature in protest against the trade-in-services agreement signed with China last June to return to their schools, the chairman of the Laundry Business Association said Sunday that it is not necessarily the case that Chinese investors will be able to generate profits in Taiwan.

While the protesters — who have occupied the Legislature since March 18 — are worried that the pact will harm Taiwan's small- and medium-sized enterprises and the local job market, Wang Wei-mou said that in the laundry business, competition among operators is fierce due to the small size of the market in Taiwan.

The profits are tiny, Wang said, noting that currently, the price for laundering towels is only NT$3 per piece, while the price for washing bedsheets is NT$8-9 per piece.

“It's not certain that Chinese enterprises would be able to generate profits” in Taiwan, Wang said, calling on the public not to worry excessively about these types of small businesses in other parts of the service sector.

Asked about some people's fear that once Taiwan's doors are opened, Chinese laundry businesses will squeeze out local operators by taking over the demand from Chinese-funded hotels and restaurants, Wang said that at present, there are over 100 big laundry operations in Taiwan, mostly situated in industrial zones.

Such a laundry treatment line costs around NT$30 million (US$986,000) to build, he pointed out, adding that he expects there will be few Chinese businesses willing to undertake such investment in Taiwan if the number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan is limited.

Besides, he went on, Taiwan's laundry technology and raw materials are among the world's best.

Taiwan has even succeeded in developing technology that allows environmentally friendly laundry operations, which has attracted attention from Chinese businesses seeking to learn the technology, Wang said.

Moreover, under the services trade pact, only Chinese companies that have operated laundry businesses for at least three years will be allowed to open businesses in Taiwan, Wang added, pledging that his association will help screen any Chinese investment applications in the sector.

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