Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) On Petrochemicals Industry

"Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential hopeful Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday defended her plans to move the nation’s petrochemicals industry to the Middle East, calling the effort environmentally friendly, viable and urgently needed."
I hadn't known she wanted to do that - uproot an entire industry and force it to relocate to Saudi Arabia? I'm stunned. Tsai cannot possibly know the extent of economic havoc that would wreak, not only upon the industry itself and the people who work in it, but also the havoc such a move would wreak upon many other downstream industries, including the electronics sector.
"In a rare point of disagreement, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), seen as a staunch supporter of Tsai, said on Sunday that Tsai “did not understand the petrochemicals industry”.."
I agree with the old man - except I'd go further and question whether she in fact understands the importance of marginal price differences in industrial production: if it was economically viable and attractive for CPC and Formosa to shift production to the Middle East, they'd surely be in the process of doing that already.

Related semi-thoughts: I know that CPC have spent the last twenty years or so trying to import more oil and gas from the likes of Kazakhstan and to rely less on the Saudis (always a good thing), so forcing them to relocate to the Middle East would surely undo all of that work. Another thing: natural gas imports to be used in gas-fired power stations would still need to be handled by CPC and Formosa, so she surely cannot be serious about relocating the entire industry - otherwise we really would be in serious trouble with her plan to phase out nuclear power in the next fourteen years.

I've googled around for an hour or so but I still can't find any proper publicly available data - links anyone?

Belated second thought: it's a bluff to get the petrochemicals industry onside in her nomination campaign and the old codger is probably in on it.


  1. I have a hard time believing Tsai would be this dim, do you have a link where this appears?

  2. I'm just going on what was reported in the Taipei Times - it was mentioned again in this morning's editorial. But yes - it seems so absurd that either it's been misreported or Tsai is trying to work some sort of angle on Kuokuang...

  3. FYI, the Ministry of Economic Affairs is considering a similar move.

    Taiwan seeking overseas site for petrochemical projects: minister

  4. Cheers Anon, but that article raises more questions than it answers; if it's not Tsai playing cards under the table, then the move to throw the petrochemicals industry under a bus is a wider one - either because they actually believe it would be a good thing (!) or for electoral calculations.

    The economics are critical here - if a move abroad really was a viable idea, Kuokuang would already have considered it. The views of CPC and Formosa execs would be gold-dust...


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