As predicted (CI No 3,311), the major Taiwanese computer manufacturer investing in Wales is Acer Peripherals Inc which yesterday unveiled plans to create 1,000 jobs at a new European manufacturing plant for personal computer monitors. The project is in two phases over five years, and the company said it will invest around 30m pounds over the period, including working capital. Acer said it chose Wales because the location at Wentlloog, between Newport and Cardiff was conveniently close to its major suppliers and to Southampton in the south of England, the main port for Taiwanese exports, as well as for the availability of a skilled workforce. However, there have been some bitter wrangles between Wales and the North East of England in contention for the Acer investment, and there has been criticism within the UK government about the scale of grants offered to Acer by the Welsh Office and the Welsh Development Agency. The Secretary of State for Wales Ron Davies says there have been wild accusations and speculation surrounding the project, but he claims Wales won it fair and square at a time when the country has recently voted in fovor of having its own regional assembly. The Development Agency will build the facility and lease it to Acer. Acer says it needs a European manufacturing facility to cut down on the eight-week lead times experienced in shipping monitors from Taiwan to Europe. Manufacturing the color monitors in Europe will make the company more competitive, it says. President K Y Lee says the company will focus on just-in-time manufacturing, which should also create a considerable number of indirect jobs over and above the 1,000 direct positions. The announcement comes as major South Korean companies have put international investment on hold due to the economic crisis in their country (CI No 3,311). Lee rejected suggestions that Acer may in turn be affected by the crisis, caused mainly by the country’s debt ratio, and he said neither Taiwan nor Acer itself has these debt problems, and he does not foresee any major impact on the company as a result of the Korean problems.
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