Tag Archives: economy

Austrian trade rep: ‘Coming back to Taiwan an easy choice’

wolframFirst published as part of Trista di Genova’s “Know Your Trade Rep” series, on the Foreign Community Page of The China Post, Feb. 9, 2009. NB: The current envoy is Dr. Walter Höfle

Before coming to Taiwan as Austrian trade delegate in August 2002, Wolfram Moritz had a previous assignment in Taiwan: deputy Austrian trade delegate (1989 -1992).

“I really enjoyed my posting and the interesting tasks, so it was an easy choice to come back 10 years later,” he told The China Post in an interview.

“I knew what to expect. The best experience was to see that the Taiwanese people had not changed over the years since 2002. They are still friendly, curious and very warm-hearted.”

In his free time, he says, “I like traveling, reading and sports. During summer, I like hiking on Yang Ming Shan. My favorite place is Ali Shan in Central Taiwan. I also like very much the off-shore islands of Penghu, Kinmen or Matsu, as well as the fantastic East coast on Taiwan proper.” And of course, local cuisine is a highlight: “I like any local foods, preferring not the fancy, but the very simple things like dumplings, guo tie, or local delicacies from the South, e.g dan cai mien.”

When he comes to Taiwan, “I always bring some CDs with Austrian classical music (since my hometown is Salzburg, I prefer Mozart-music), as well as Austrian chocolates.” And when he visits Austria, “I usually buy the wonderful Taiwanese tea to have a very special and much appreciated gift.”

As for his office’s future plans, “For 2009 we are focusing on Austrian consumer goods, and we plan to participate in the International Food Fair in June 2009 in Taipei. Austria has a pavilion every year with some 10 Austrian participants, offering a wide variety of Austrian food products like wines, cheese, jams, fruit juices or chocolates.”

On the industry side, his office is introducing the Taiwanese market for wood — timber, and wood products, such as floors and furniture, to Austrian exporters. “We are undertaking a study on this subject right now, and will introduce it to Austrian companies this coming spring,” he says. “And hopefully we can organize a field trip for interested Austrian entrepreneurs to come to Taiwan and see for themselves what this market has to offer.”

The Austrian Trade Delegation is also responsible for the tourism promotion. “We try to make Austria more popular as a tourism destination for Taiwanese travelers,” he explains. “We’ll organize a tourism workshop with 10 Austrian tourism specialists who will visit Taipei beginning of March, introducing new destinations and tourism products to the local tourism industry.

For the general public, he suggests the International Travel Fair in Taipei. “Austria will be present with a big booth and everybody will be welcome to get first-hand information on Austria and its attractions.”

Perhaps best known locally for Swarovski crystals, wines and chocolates, Austria is also important for providing Taiwan with machinery used in producing semiconductors, heavy industry equipment for steel making, tunnel construction or public buildings. Even the MRT trains in Kaohsiung are “Made in Austria,” he noted.

For more info, check out the website www.austriantrade.org/.

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People Mountain, People Sea… of Cars

By Jonathan Chandler
Exclusive to The Wild East

Traffic control (later) implemented in Qingdao's Beer Street. Photo: echinacities.com

September is here, and with it the teeming masses have left the beach — drunk down all the Tsingtao beer during the two-week Beer Festival — and returned to the provinces to take their dearly beloved one child per family back to the daily school grind of getting good grades in tests. The sky is blue, the sea is glittering and the mountains are crisply defined as we sail down empty afternoon roads.

At this pivotal moment on the global market balance sheet, China is positioned perfectly to define and exploit its role as one of the great superpowers of the world economy. Indeed, if you had been in Qingdao in August you would have been amazed by the sheer numbers of new, ultra-expensive luxury car imports, and the vast crowds of very well-off citizens spending their Summer hols cavorting in swimwear all over the place. This is all with a most un-Confucian lack of modesty and newly-acquired concept of “leisure” that was previously unknown in the Middle Kingdom and definitely frowned upon by traditional Confucianist dogma.

Not being of that persuasion I can report with sincerity that it was a very fine thing to behold the Shandong xiao-jie’s – the Little Misses – in their designer logo-branded bikinis. And then there was the Beer Festival.

The Chinese have a saying for be-mobbed crowds – “ren shan ren hai” (人山人海) – People Mountain, People Sea. And while driving – or attempting to drive – in the vicinity of the Beer Festival grounds in the last two weeks of August, you would have discovered just how appropriate this saying was, thereby once again illustrating how rich and perfectly apt are the descriptive phrases of the ancient and glorious Chinese language. But as I sat in the taxi for ninety minutes to pass through one intersection on the opening day, I was struck by the thought that there might be a serious hitch in the government plans for domestic stimulus.

Cars: too many of them already and an infinity more to come。
Apparently in the year to date, China has bought more cars than America.
In fact, the government has actively been encouraging this car-buying spree with its mainline shooting up of multi-trillion Renminbi intravenous speedballs into the country’s economic veins.

As I sat there, sweat cascading down my face and back in the sauna-room taxi, going nowhere at no speed, I was thinking about modern European and the developed world’s cities with their anti-car policies.

When we finally reached the actual curb corner to take us out of the jam, I saw a single traffic cop, his hat perched on the back of his head like Elvis in G.I. Blues, his red face drenched, his green uniform stained and darkened all over, his hair a tangle of tufts as manic as the gridlock all around him.

He caught my eye and I saluted and winked. His eyes stayed on mine for a few suspended moments, then he smiled wryly, shrugged his shoulders and held out his palms as if to say, “Zhe-ma ban? What can one poor cop do?”

So here’s the problem: if China continues down the path of domestic stimulus with the encouraging of private vehicle acquisition, the future will be one hellzapoppin’ car-jam, which is bad for the environment, a waste of energy and above all, a farcical waste of time and thus money.

I’ve experienced plenty of Shanghai lockdown and that ninety minutes a couple of Saturday early evenings ago, stranded on a Qingdao beach road, made me think that China might consider some other way to get people to spend their way out of the recession, because private cars are inevitably a doomed species, a thing of the past.

The whole world wants China to go on marching forward into a bright and shining future… not sitting in traffic stasis being an object of futility, productive of one thing only: gallons of sweat!

Jonathan Chandler is a British novelist and writer currently based in Qingdao, China.

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