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Premier pledges government aid for industries hit by coronavirus

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Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday pledged that the government will ensure sufficient supplies for combating the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and that the resources will be distributed with priority to those most in need. He also instructed the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) to redouble support for hardworking businesses vulnerable to the outbreak.

The premier's remarks followed a Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) briefing on the outbreak's latest developments and responses, as well as an MOEA briefing on relief measures for affected industries.

Because the manufacturing sector is an economic lifeline for Taiwan, the MOEA has introduced an industrial relief plan that works by adjusting support mechanisms and increasing available resources. The plan will help businesses cope with supply chain disruptions and cash flow problems by not only solving the immediate problems but also helping them upgrade technologies and capture new opportunities. The overall vision is to accelerate Taiwan's transformation into a high-end manufacturing center, the premier said.

The latest outbreak has highlighted the fact that industries that rely more on China as a production site or target market will suffer a greater impact. The MOEA will therefore help business understand the importance of localizing or diversifying supply chains.

As more Taiwanese businesses return from China or move on to New Southbound Policy countries, the MOEA should attend to their needs and speed up the repatriation process, Premier Su said. The ministry can also help the companies embrace smart manufacturing to create new opportunities and reduce labor demands.

While the coronavirus outbreak has hurt certain industries, it has also benefited others such as health care suppliers, food delivery services and e-commerce platforms. Some industries have even come together to support one another, such as when machinery tool companies added production lines to help surgical mask factories. The premier instructed the MOEA to reallocate resources when appropriate, and encourage mutual support among industries to help them weather the outbreak.

The administration is implementing the strictest possible preventive measures against the virus, Premier Su said, assuring citizens that there is no need to panic as the outbreak remains under control in Taiwan. With vigilance and good health management, the public will be able to stay safe.

The MOHW indicated that although Taiwan is at low risk of community transmission, it is extremely important to enforce border checks and health screenings given the large number of international arrivals each day. To improve the efficiency of quarantine checks and customs and immigration procedures, Taiwan launched the Passenger Health Declaration and Home Quarantine Information System on February 16, which will also ease the burden on inspection officials. The MOHW will continue to foster public awareness to ensure arriving passengers provide the correct information and comply with follow-up monitoring or quarantine measures if necessary.

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