Press Release, June 8, 1998
TDI Production: BAYER's plans in Taiwan inhibited
The critics of the planned BAYER plant in Taiwan have achieved a great success. The company was forced to abandon its plans due to the international campaign of the Coalition against Bayer Dangers, the December election results in Taiwan, and the decision by the Taichung provincial government. The chemical company based in Leverkusen stopped the 500 million German Mark investment. The plant will no longer be built.
The company actually wanted to begin building the second largest polyurethanes plant in the world with a capacity of approx. 100,000 tons annually in the Taiwanese seaport town of Taichung in order to supply the entire East Asian region with plastic raw products. The local resistance in Taichung as well as the international work of the COALITION have finally forced BAYER to drp this strategic project.
The provincial meeting refused to make a definitive decision on the project on December 19th without inclusion of the interests of local citizens. BAYER immediately reacted to the news. After the company claimed in a press conference in Hong Kong on November 30th that construction of the TDI plant could begin on February 1998, the categorical STOP on further negotiations came from Leverkusen on December 18th. BAYER press officer Reinert claimed, "The negotiations in Taiwan have been interrupted ... We are deeply disappointed that our intense efforts to convince the Taiwanese authorities of the advantages of a BAYER plant in Taiwan have been unsuccessful. We will begin with our alternative plans to build in Baytown, America immediately." The financial market's reaction did not take very long. BAYER stock dropped on the Frankfurt stock market 1.85 German Marks or 3% the same day the Taiwan flop was publicized.
Taiwan Journal, Feb 13/1998
Taiwan mission to Bayer rekindles hope for project
Bayer AG, a German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant, is still willing to build a chemical plant in Taiwan as long as the land lease contract for the proposed factory is approved this month by the Taiwan Provincial Assembly.
Dieter Becher, a Bayer spokesman, made the remarks on Feb. 5 while receiving a fact-finding delegation from Taiwan. The 30 members of the Taiwan delegation were a mix of government officials, public representatives and environmental protection scholars.
The delegation, headed by Liu Yu-shan, vice chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, visited Bayer's headquarters in the German city of Leverkusen. The purpose of the trip was to study the company's safety control and management techniques. Liu said Premier Vincent Siew requested that the delegation bring back information that will serve as reference material for the government agencies involved in screening the proposed project.
Last December, Bayer suspended its US$1.52 billion project to build a toluene diisocyanate plant adjacent to Taichung Harbor in central Taiwan. The company made the decision after the Taiwan Provincial Assembly failed to review a land lease contract for the TDI factory. At that time, there was strong opposition against Bayer's proposed plant from local residents and environmentalists.
Taichung County Magistrate Liao Yung-lai, from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, wanted to hold a referendum to decide the fate of Bayer's proposed TDI project.
After learning of the suspension, both Premier Siew and Taiwan Provincial Gov. James Soong wrote to Bayer urging it to reconsider its decision.
Becher told the visiting ROC delegation that Bayer had already invested 18 months in the project without achieving any tangible results. And the reason for this is that Bayer underestimated the concerns of residents near Taichung Harbor about the TDI project and related industrial safety issues, he explained. Becher added that Bayer has pinned its hopes on the visiting delegation to help promote the TDI project back in Taiwan.
Bayer has always considered Taichung Harbor as the best investment site, Becher stated. "The education level in Taiwan is high and skilled manpower is in abundance. Taiwan's stable economic climate is very attractive and the Taichung Harbor has various advantages in terms of marketing," he said.
The company spokesman stressed that Bayer hoped the land-lease contract for the proposed project will be approved by the provincial assembly in February. This would allow the company to start clearing the land at the Taichung Harbor site in March and begin construction of the TDI plant in September, he said.
After returning to Taiwan, the head of the delegation told reporters on Feb. 11 that Bayer has made several assurances if the TDI project is approved.
These assurances include setting up a task force to monitor the construction of the TDI plant and frequent contact with nearby communities. The German firm promised to employ local talent and provide employees at the factory as well as local residents adjacent to the plant with insurance coverage.
Bayer said executives working at the TDI plant will live in neighboring communities to ease concerns about the safety of the plant. It also agreed to transfer technology to Taiwan.
Liu and other members of the delegation are scheduled to report on their fact-finding mission during a provisional meeting to be held by the provincial assembly on Feb. 16. This meeting could determine the outcome of Bayer's TDI project in Taiwan. By Deborah Shen