Taiwan Officials Lay Out Plans For Building Technology Hub - InformationWeek

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Taiwan Officials Lay Out Plans For Building Technology Hub

A senior Taiwanese official said late yesterday that his country--the world's third-largest manufacturer of IT components behind the United States and Japan--is now fully able to meet demand for computer components despite the devastating earthquake that rocked the country in September. Speaking at Comdex, Shih-Chien Yang, Taiwan's Minister of State for Science and Technology, also said his country's manufacturing infrastructure is year 2000-ready.

Yang, who called the 7.6-magnitude quake an "unprecedented" event in his country's history, said most of the island nation's manufacturing infrastructure was spared because it is located in Taiwan's northern and southern regions. The quake's epicenter struck the central region. Yang did note, however, that production at the country's silicon wafer foundries was "set back by about one week."

On the subject of year 2000 readiness, Yang said he is "confident" that Taiwan is fully prepared. "We have adopted a proactive approach to this, and all the relevant contingencies are in place," Yang said.

Taiwan's ability to withstand natural and man-made disasters is crucial to U.S. computer makers, who depend on the country for a wide range of components, from memory chips to motherboards. Compaq, for instance, procures more than 50% of its components from Taiwan.

And in the years ahead, the country's significance as a supplier to the IT industry is likely to increase substantially. Yesterday, Taiwan officials said the country is embarking on a campaign that they hope will make it a major center for networking components and software development. As part of the plan, the Taiwanese government is opening in Taipei a "software park" capable of accommodating 35,000 developers. It is also launching an educational initiative whereby holders of non-technical university degrees can apply for training to become software engineers. Taiwan officials said the aim is to entice global software companies to outsource manufacturing to Taiwan. "We would welcome our U.S. partners," said Yun Kuo, president of Taiwan's Institute for Information Industry.

The announcements came on the same day that Cisco Systems president and CEO John Chambers warned that U.S. companies could lose out to foreign competitors in the race to build the world's E-commerce infrastructure because of declining educational and worker training standards in this country.

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