Taiwan Expatriates Accounted For, Recovery Of Country’s IT Industry In Doubt

By mid-afternoon today – the day after two planes crashed into the sides of the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center – Taiwan’s quasi-official China News Agency completed a headcount of 101 employees of Taiwan companies located in the buildings.

All were safe, leaving but one, a locally hired employee of Bank of Taiwan (BOT), unaccounted for.

But by 5 p.m. Taiwan time, BOT officials added that name to the list of staff safely evacuated Monday morning from its 53rd floor office at One World Trade Center.

Located in the twin towers were five Taiwan banks, including the Bank of Taiwan, Taipei Bank, First Commercial Bank, Chang Hwa Bank, and Hua Nan Bank; as well as Taiwan conglomerate, the ChinFon Group.

With its nationals accounted for, Taiwan’s Government turned its attention to the effect the terrorist attack might have on its export-based economy.

“Yesterday’s attack has changed the picture,” said Cynthia Chyn, an industry analyst at the Market Intelligence Center (MIC) of the Government’s think tank, Institute for Information Industry (III). “We had been hoping for a recovery in U.S. consumer demand in Q4, but now that is in doubt.”

Last month, III had forecast a first-time ever negative annual growth for Taiwan’s IT industry for the current year. “We had predicted a negative 8 percent for 2001 in terms of production value, but now we expect a double-digit decline,” she added.

The U.S. is Taiwan’s largest market for IT exports, purchasing 38 percent of the island’s output in 2000. This percentage might drop slightly. The impact of the tragedy on Taiwan’s IT industry stems mainly from demand-side factors, in particular a slackening of consumer confidence.

Chyn expects little effect from supply-side factors. “This will have little long term consequences as long as air traffic resumes quickly,” she said.

Contributed by asia.internet.com‘s Taiwan writer Glenn Smith.

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