U.S. firms in Taiwan making 'contingency' plans amid China tensions
TAIPEI (Reuters) - Almost half of companies surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taiwan are revising or plan to revise their business continuity plans amid tensions with China, while a growing number reported being impacted by those strains.
China, which views democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory, has been stepping up military drills across the Taiwan Strait since then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August.
In a survey released on Tuesday, which took place between Nov. 15 and Dec. 16, AmCham Taiwan said 33% of respondents said their operations had been "significantly disrupted" by the increase in tensions, compared with 17% when it did a flash survey in August right after China began war games.
While what it termed "personal anxiety" about increased military activity or tensions remained flat between August and December, 47% of companies said they either have revised or plan to revise business continuity plans "to address the new geopolitical climate."
"We are aware that companies are either initiating or renewing their planning efforts, operational contingency planning. We know that's going on," AmCham Taiwan President Andrew Wylegala told reporters.
AmCham Taiwan, which said that 214 of its 437 members responded to the December survey, said one-third of companies reported being disrupted by elevated concern or policy changes from their global headquarters, followed by increased shipping, insurance, or financial costs and staff anxiety.
Political uncertainty was the biggest factor deferring members from further investment in Taiwan, and more than half of respondents said cross-strait relations should be the government's top priority in the coming three years, it said.
The group has called for an ambitious agenda to accelerate economic cooperation with Taiwan through a new Taiwan-U.S. trade talks framework - and eventually a bilateral trade agreement, though it hopes to see faster progress.
"Engagements are going on between the U.S. and Taiwan. A year and half ago there was none," Wylegala said. "There is an expectation and hope that things will move faster."
(Reporting by Faith Hung; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Raju Gopalakrishnan)