Owners of petrochemical plants in a Kaohsiung industrial park voiced concerns Monday that the relocation of a state-run naphtha cracker complex away from the area will push up their costs and reduce their competitiveness.
CPC Corp.'s naphtha cracker plant currently feeds customers in the Ren Da Industrial Park raw materials through a direct pipeline, which significantly reduces transportation costs. But the plant is scheduled to be shut down in 2015 because of environmental concerns.
Companies in the park have recently gotten a taste of life without access to raw materials produced by the complex after it shut down in early April because of a fire, which forced them to import materials from aboard at a significantly higher cost.
The businesses in the park raised their concerns after the government confirmed Monday that a controversial project intended to replace the production of CPC Corp.'s complex in Kaohsiung would be located in Malaysia.
The Kuokuang project, which was first proposed in 2005, underwent a number of changes and was eventually destined for a wetlands area in Changhua County, but staunch opposition from local residents and environmentalists forced it to be scrapped.
Businesses in the park said the Kaohsiung municipal government's urban renewal plan in the area also limits the industry's development by blocking owners from building more plants, and protests by local residents to force the petrochemical industry out of the park has narrowed their options even further.
They said they appealed to officials at the Ministry of Economic Affairs in March for help, hoping to remain in the park to provide jobs for local employees despite having to import materials from abroad.
They urged the government to initiate policies to blunt the blow of the naphtha cracker plant's relocation and provide guidance in helping operators re-engineer their businesses.
The measures should be developed urgently to prevent the decline of the industry from leading to a huge jump in unemployment, they said.
Taiwan's petrochemical industry has undergone structural change in recent years, with high-end petrochemical companies being kept at home while intermediary producers move abroad because of strong protests over the sector's environmental record.
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