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Taiwan, Vietnam to discuss riot damages for companies

Taiwan's Vice Economic Minister Shen Jong Chin will head to Hanoi on Wednesday to discuss compensation for Taiwanese companies hit by last week's anti-China riots in Vietnam.

TAIPEI: Taiwan's Vice Economic Minister Shen Jong Chin will head to Hanoi on Wednesday to discuss compensation with the Vietnamese government for Taiwanese companies hit by last week's anti-China riots in Vietnam.

"We will visit Taiwanese companies affected by the riots and assess their damage. We will hold discussions with our businessmen at several key industrial zones to find out what they need,” said Mr Shen.

Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Group, one of the companies worst affected, has said it is seeking US$3 million in damages after one of its factories was set ablaze by rioters, leading to one death.

The riots were targeted at China, but Taiwanese companies bore the brunt of the violence.

One Taiwanese who has spent 11 years in Vietnam, James Chen, 68, said it still pains him to see the shocking images from the anti-China riots in Vietnam.

Mr Chen, general manager of Kinetic Sports Co which runs factories that make surfboards, calls Vietnam his second home.

"We (as Taiwanese businesses) are always the first to help the Vietnamese government and offer donations when natural disasters hit Vietnam. I think it's really unfair. Why are we being treated like this?" he said.

Kinetic Sports Co is among more than 2,000 Taiwanese companies operating in Vietnam.

The companies were among the first foreign investors to set foot in the country since 1988.

Taiwan is not only the fourth largest foreign investor, putting US$28 billion into Vietnam, but it is also the largest foreign employer, giving jobs to 1.4 million Vietnamese.

Vietnam is also a very lucrative spot for Taiwanese companies to do business.

Kristy Hsu, director of Taiwan ASEAN Studies Centre at Chung Hua Institution for Economic Research, said: "To the Taiwanese businesses, Vietnam is critical because it has abundant cheap labour. More importantly, it's a key export base to Southeast Asia and it has free trade deals with major countries,” she said.

More than 200 Taiwanese companies suffered losses and damage from the recent violence.

The largest Taiwanese company in Vietnam, Formosa Plastics is demanding compensation and tax breaks from the Vietnamese government.

Lin Hsin Yi, chairman of Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp, said: "Our investment project in Vietnam is worth over US$10 billion, the biggest in the country's history.

“Such a big project is an important indicator to Vietnam's future economic development and its foreign investors. The Vietnamese prime minister and his government are taking the matter very seriously."

Despite the recent violence, Mr Chen said his company has no plans to pull out of Vietnam.

But he hopes the Vietnamese government will step up efforts to ensure the safety of all its foreign investors.  

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