Taiwan’s $124bn infrastructure plan

Economic planning council minister Christina Liu says she wants the private sector to fund 30% of the $124bn the Asian tiger's plans to spend on infrastructure over the next eight years. She is also inviting foreign investors to discover a local debt market with a ‘huge amount of capital available’.

Christina Liu, the minister of Taiwan’s Council for Economic Development (CEPD), has revealed in an exclusive interview with Infrastructure Investor that the government is planning to spend NT$3.99 trillion (€100 billion; $124 billion) on infrastructure over the next eight years.
 

Christina Liu

Of that amount, about 30 percent, or NT$1.34 trillion, is expected to come from the private sector, Liu said. These public-private partnerships (PPP) will encompass everything from transportation links to government accommodation, water and wastewater projects as well as renewable energy, she added.
 
When thinking about promising infrastructure markets in Asia, you could be forgiven if the island nation of 23 million doesn’t immediately spring to mind.
 
But more attentive investors might have picked up on Taiwan’s infrastructure ambitions if they followed 2008’s presidential campaign, won by Ma Ying-jeou. During the campaign, the current president outlined 12 infrastructure projects that formed one of his key platforms and a crucial element to usher in a “golden decade” of economic growth.
 
Now recent meetings between Liu’s CEPD and other government agencies are bringing president Ying-jeou’s key infrastructure projects – which Liu explains are not really “12 standalone projects but refer to bundles in different sectors, so there will be hundreds of projects” – closer to fruition.
 
With a tried and tested PPP legislation in place – Taiwan is already home to the world’s largest build-operate-transfer (BOT) rail project, a $15 billion high-speed rail network that runs the length of the island – Taiwan also boasts a strong debt market with low cost funding.
 
“We really welcome foreign companies to come here and borrow funds from here. We have a huge supply of capital so interest rates are quite low – about 1.3 percent. A lot of these funds are in private banks but we also have a lot of excess supply of savings and our insurance companies have accumulated a lot of funds they would like to invest,” Liu said.
 
The work to be done now, Liu points out, is to get the word out to the market on Taiwan’s infrastructure plans.
 
“Some of these projects are already underway but maybe not enough people know about that,” Liu admits. “We need to let people know about the specifics,” she adds.
 
To find out more about Taiwan’s infrastructure plans, read the full interview with Christina Liu on the September 2010 edition of Infrastructure Investor magazine.