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Taiwanese firms expect India government support on land, labour issues: trade official

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Taiwanese firms eyeing investment in India want government support on land and labour issues, a senior Taiwan trade official said on Tuesday, following a violent protest at Wistron Corp’s iPhone manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Indian tech hub Bengaluru.

FILE PHOTO: Men wearing protective face masks walk past broken windows of a facility run by Wistron Corp, a Taiwanese contract manufacturer for Apple, in Narsapura near the southern city of Bengaluru, India, December 14, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

Taiwan-based Wistron, one of Apple Inc.’s top global suppliers, estimated damages up to T$200 million ($7.12 million) after contract workers ransacked its facility, demanding unpaid wages and better working hours. Apple said it was probing whether Wistron had flouted supplier guidelines.

“We do hope that the Wistron incident in Bengaluru would be resolved as soon as possible and any harm will be controlled and give Taiwanese companies more confidence,” James C. F. Huang, Chairman, Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) told Reuters in an online interview from Taipei.

“There have been a lot of discussions in Taipei. And we are still waiting to hear more results from this incident and to see what really happened,” Huang said.

Major Taiwanese contract manufacturers Foxconn, Wistron Corp and Pegatron Corp have plans to invest up to $900 million in India over the next five years to tap into a production-linked incentive plan, sources have previously told Reuters.

“We are hoping that the Indian side would provide more, and not just incentives,” Huang said.

“We also need support of local governments to relocate operations and to prevent any event such as what happened in Bengaluru just now.”

Taipei runs an Economic and Cultural Center in New Delhi, which operates as a de facto embassy.

China maintains that Taiwan, an island 110 miles (177 km) off the Chinese mainland, does not qualify for formal diplomatic ties with any country.

India’s bilateral trade with Taiwan was valued at $5.7 billion in 2019-2020, down 20% from a year ago.

Huang said Taiwanese businesses wanted both countries to sign a free trade pact that would bring new investments.

China’s trade war with the United States, and the coronavirus pandemic, have forced companies to diversify their supply chains out of China, giving India a shot in the arm as the country aims to position itself as a major export manufacturing hub.

Reporting by Neha Arora; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Bernadette Baum