More Taiwanese companies with operations in China are looking to countries targeted by Taipei’s New Southbound Policy as investment possibilities as the US-China trade dispute drags on, Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) said.

Data compiled by the Ministry of Economic Affairs show that the top five destinations of investment by such firms are India, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, Deng said.

Firms affected by the dispute are desperate to redirect their investment to these countries, and the government should provide more assistance to them, he said.

For example, it could help them secure land by recommending space in complexes established by the governments of those countries or those set up by Taiwanese firms, he said.

It could enter into talks with the governments of the five nations to jointly establish industrial or commercial districts — such as the planned complex for “smart” technology firms in the north of Thailand — and help Taiwanese firms start operations there, he said.

To help firms redirect investment, the government is in talks with Indonesian authorities to create a bonded industrial complex in Surabaya, which would include a 100 hectare “Taiwan special complex,” a source said.

A planned Thai complex is to include an area dedicated to Taiwanese firms experienced in implementing “smart” city policies, the source added.

Officials from the Executive Yuan’s Office of Trade Negotiations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other agencies are to negotiate with their counterparts in the five nations and draw up a strategic plan to move into science parks and industrial complexes to facilitate the forming of business clusters, an Executive Yuan source said.

The government is increasing the pace of its efforts to help Taiwanese firms, the source added.