The China Post staff
Neville Roach, president of the Asian-Oceanian Computer Industry Organization (ASOCIO) and chairman and CEO of Fujitsu Australia, says that Taiwan has the potential to become the gateway to the Greater China market. “Taiwan is a democratic country where English is widely spoken and the legal system is accessible and functions well. Taiwan is also very good for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It is very easy to lose one’s shirt in mainland China, and smaller firms run a big risk of losing money. Taiwan is an excellent gateway to the region,” Roach said. Fujitsu’s global turnover is US$50 billion, making it the fifth biggest computer company in the world “Taiwan’s focus on the world market has meant that it has become the top world supplier of a number of essential components for PCs, such as motherboards, mice and screens. Fujitsu sources a lot of components from Taiwan. Now, Taiwan is moving into the software and services area and is doing very well, particularly middleware. This sort of software is vital for the Internet revolution and Taiwan has made a wise choice to develop this area,” Roach says. Roach was addressing the monthly meeting of the Australia New Zealand Business Association (ANZBA) at the invitation of the Australian Commerce and Industry Office (ACIO). Roach is also chairman of Australia’s Multicultural Advisory Council. The Australian connection is an important one for Taiwan and Roach is involved in organizing the World Congress on Information Technology, which will be held in Adelaide, South Australia, in early 2002. The last World Congress was held in Taipei earlier this year. Fujitsu is heavily involved in both the Taiwan and Australian markets. The firm has a turnover of US$500 million in Australia. Fujitsu employs over 2,200 people in Australia and New Zealand, and has been under local management for the last 22 years. “Australia is a big consumer of IT products and is at the cutting edge of Internet and IT development. Other countries are bigger exporters, but Australia has a very vigorous domestic market, making it the Asian region’s third biggest IT market” Roach said. India also interests Roach. He has an honors degree from the University of Bombay. “India has a great reservoir of IT talent. It is probably the only net exporter of IT expertise in the world. Indians are making a big splash in Silicon Valley. Currently, something like 40 percent of startups in the Valley are by Indian expatriate entrepreneurs. The same thing is happening as in Taiwan. Indians are going to gain expertise and are making money in America, then going home to start up businesses. The common language of the Internet is English, and English comes naturally to Indians, as most higher education is conducted in English,” says Roach. “Like Australia and Taiwan, India is a democracy. Democracies are the best form of government for business. In authoritarian countries like Indonesia, the only way to transfer power is a coup. That is very destabilizing. The Internet flourishes in a free society. The Internet needs new ideas every three months. Only a society with a culture of vigorous free speech and intellectual disputation can produce this,” he said.
Taiwan’s culture of co-operation between industry and business impresses Roach. “Taiwan has some world-leading companies, like Acer and Mitac and many others who are not so well known. Five years ago, industry leaders and government decided that software and services was the way to go. This cooperation is something the rest of the world could learn from,”said Roach. Roach, who is originally from India, also promotes Australia as a good place to do business. “Taiwan business people find Australia a great place to live and do business. Australia is looking for business migrants, and interest is very high in Taiwan. Our recent seminar in Kaohsiung attracted over 100 participants,” Roach said.