台商下一站?!

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2012 / 11月

文‧滕淑芬



看到攝影同仁拍回來的緬甸仰光照片─崎嶇泥濘的道路、低矮老舊的房舍、小攤販點蠟燭作生意,映照著二千多年歷史、閃閃發亮的信仰中心大金塔,直覺想到,這好像二十多年前的中國大陸─落後卻充滿爆發力。

緬甸的自然條件豐富,森林覆蓋率廣,素有「森林王國」之稱,更盛產玉石和寶石。但由於長期被軍政府統治,經濟發展緩慢,人均收入只有七百多美元,幾乎是亞洲最貧窮的國家之一。兩年前,民主運動領袖翁山蘇姬重獲自由、重返政壇、參與選舉等,長期被國際社會孤立的緬甸,短時間內頻頻亮相國際舞台,也成為國內媒體競相出國採訪的故事。

緬甸是現今全球最受矚目的投資明珠。日本趨勢專家大前研一認為,繼「金磚4國」及「維他命(VITAMIN)10國」(泛指越南、印尼、泰國,中南美洲的阿根廷等國)之後,緬甸與柬埔寨、寮國及孟加拉等4國,將以超低工資,成為全球新生產基地。

亞洲開發銀行今年8月公布的報告更指出,如果緬甸持續進行開放改革,至2030年之前,可望成為亞洲快速成長的經濟體之一,年成長率可達7%~8%,人均收入增加3倍。當亞銀下修明年多數亞洲開發中國家的經濟成長率,包括大陸、泰國、越南等,唯獨將緬甸上調至6.3%,可見其潛力。

值此全球投以關愛眼神之際,台商也趁勢而行,搶食商機。對於逐鹿全球、持續往低廉勞動市場轉進的台商而言,哪裡有水草、哪裡就是工廠。

然而,除了看中緬甸龐大的勞動力,緬甸民眾溫順善良的個性,社會治安良好,更讓她成為外資湧入的投資樂園。陽光下,拿著書、戴著斗笠的小女孩;大人與小孩的臉上抹上帶有天然木香的防曬品,一張張素樸、洋溢笑意的羞澀臉龐,讓人印象深刻。

為掌握生產最前線的台商動態,光華記者走訪緬甸和泰國,帶回第一手報導,下期將繼續刊登走過惡水低谷的泰國台商故事。

「給魚,不如給釣竿」,台商投資東南亞,帶來工作機會,提升當地技術;這個精神也正是台灣國際醫療援外秉持的信念。

自1962年開始,台灣醫療團就常飛越國界,來到一萬多公里以外的邦交國與友邦,協助當地民眾擺脫寄生蟲的糾纏、建立基層醫療衛生體系和訓練當地醫護人員;對於目前這些才踏出大學校門的年輕外交替代役來說,史懷哲非洲行醫的苦行歷程,不再是遙遠陌生的傳奇故事。這段遠離家鄉、艱辛的行醫歲月,也勢必為他們的人生帶來不同的回憶與意義。

正如台灣路竹會會長劉啟群在《白袍下的熱血》一書中所說,因為台灣醫療團的到來,原本因病痛驚慌不已的民眾,表情漸趨平靜;原本黯淡無助的眼神散發出希望的光彩,這就是行醫的最大收穫。

醫療援外讓台灣的醫療技術揚名於世,贏得國際友誼,謝謝這群默默奉獻的無名英雄。

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EN

[Editor’s Note]The Next Hot Investment Destination?!

Teng Sue-feng /tr. by Jonathan Barnard


Some photos taken by a colleague while in Myanamar have really grabbed my attention. They offer views onto the lit-up Buddhist Shwedagon Pagoda, which has more than 2000 years of history and is the center of the nation’s religious life. They show rough, pock-marked roadways, ramshackle low-rise houses, and small stands conducting their nighttime business by candlelight. The images can’t help but prompt comparisons to mainland China of 20 some years ago—backwards but bursting with vitality.

Myanmar has been blessed with a copious natural bounty. Its vast woodlands have earned it the nickname “the forest kingdom,” and its deposits of jade and precious stones are even more notable. But the military government that long ruled the nation stifled its economic development. The national per capita income now stands at only a little above US$700, making it one of Asia’s poorest countries. Two years ago, the ruling junta released the democracy movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. She returned to the political realm, and elections were held. In just a few short years and after a long period of isolation, the nation has taken high-profile strides to open up and shake off its outcast status among the community of nations. In the process it has become a favorite subject for overseas reports among media outlets in Taiwan.

Myanmar is currently one of the world’s major targets for overseas investment. Kenichi Ohmae, a Japanese business strategist and trend analyst, believes that after the four BRIC countries and the “Vitamin 10” nations (which include Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Argentina and so forth), the next hot new bases for global manufacturing will be in the four Southeast Asian nations of Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Bangladesh, which alike feature the strong selling point of low-cost labor.

The Asian Development Bank in August announced that if Myanmar continued on its reform path, it could end up as one of Asia’s fastest growing economies in the years leading up to 2030, with annual growth rates of 7-8% and per capita income tripling over those years. The bank recently revised downward its anticipated 2013 growth rates for many places, including mainland China, Thailand, and Vietnam. Uniquely, Myanmar saw its expected growth rise (to 6.3%). The nation’s economic potential is clear for all to see.

Like investors from around the world, Taiwanese businesses people—who continually scan the globe looking for opportunities—have focused on Myanmar.

Apart from eyeing Myanmar’s huge labor force, foreign investors are even more impressed by the friendly, honest character of the people and the nation’s lack of crime.

To report on the front-line experiences and ideas of ROC business people vis-s-vis Myanmar, Taiwan Panorama has sent reporters to both Myanmar and Thailand. (Next month’s issue of the magazine will focus more specifically on Thailand, examining the challenges and opportunities that Taiwanese businesses face there.)

“It’s better to give someone a fishing rod than a fish.” By investing in Southeast Asia, Taiwanese businesses have brought jobs and raised the level of local skills and technology. The foreign medical assistance provided by Taiwan aims to achieve similar ends.

Since 1962, medical teams from Taiwan have been flying across continents and national boundaries, sometimes more than 10,000 kilometers away. They have helped the people of diplomatic allies and non-allies alike to rid themselves of parasites and diseases. They have established basic medical and sanitation systems and trained local medical personnel. Performing the same kind of service to the local residents that Albert Schweitzer performed in Africa in the early 20th century, the young people on these teams, many barely out of college, have been bolstering the image of the Republic of China.

Liu Chi-chun, chairman of the Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps, explains that with the arrival of medical teams from Taiwan people who have been anxiety-ridden about their medical conditions gradually grow calmer and regain a sense of hope.

Providing foreign medical assistance has made the high level of healthcare in Taiwan world famous and earned the nation gratitude and friendship. For these achievements, let us thank the quiet heroes of those medical teams for their tremendous sacrifices and contributions.

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