Taiwan president-elect aims to lure tech investment

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan President-elect Ma Ying-jeou said on Tuesday he plans to roll out lighter tax rates and simplify regulations for the island’s technology companies to encourage more firms to invest at home.

Many of Taiwan’s technology companies have moved their manufacturing to other countries, such as Vietnam and China, due to lower production costs and the government has been trying to lure these firms back.

Taiwan is home to the world’s two largest contract chip makers and its companies produce 80 percent of the world’s laptops and 40 percent of flat panel displays.

“We’re looking at more tax reforms and lighter tax rates,” Ma Ying-jeou told a news conference after he met with some of Taiwan’s top technology executives. He did not provide details.

Ma, who will take office on May 20, met with leaders of seven major high-tech firms, including Acer 2353.TW, Asustek Computer 2357.TW, Lite-On Technology 2301.TW, Compal Electronics 2324.TW, Qisda 2352.TW and Delta Electronics2308.TW.

Ma added that he aimed to boost foreign investments in Taiwan and hoped that high-tech talent from China would be able to work on the island. “We want to give these firms more space and freedom,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, a grouping of Taiwan companies said Chinese officials are planning to draft measures to help Taiwanese firms operating in China stay competitive.

Ma had said he would loosen investment restrictions to China, but also encouraged domestic companies to invest locally. Taiwan generally limits its companies to invest no more than 40 percent of its net asset in China.

Earlier this month, Ma met with top electronics maker Hon Hai Precision Industry 2317.TW Chairman Terry Gou and Formosa Plastics Group Chairman Wang Yung-ching on potential opportunities for new investments in Taiwan.

Ma, who favors closer trade ties with China, had also recently said he is considering opening up the commercial property market to mainland investors and plans to make direct flights available between Taiwan and China in July.

Self-ruled Taiwan and China, which claims the island as its own, remain political rivals since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. But despite that rivalry, economic links between the pair have thrived, with China now the island’s biggest trading partner and favored investment destination.

Taiwan investors have poured more than $100 billion into China since the 1980’s.

Reporting by Sheena Lee; Editing by Anshuman Daga