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Taiwan fights recession with gadget show

Dan Nystedt | Feb. 17, 2009
Taiwan throws a recession PC exhibition to draw shoppers with their government vouchers.

TAIPEI, 16 FEBRUARY 2009 - A special electronics show aimed at enticing people in Taiwan into spending special economic stimulus vouchers ended Monday in Taipei with many people picking up new gadgets on the cheap.

The Taiwan government last month started handing out NT$3,600 (US$106) in vouchers to every adult citizen in the nation to get them out shopping again and stimulate the economy. The multi-billion dollar program was aimed at stimulating growth by getting people out and shopping. To that end, the government gave vouchers instead of cash to ensure people used them ahead of their expiration dates, instead of handing out cash that might be put in the bank.

The voucher program prompted fair organizers in Taipei to open a 3C (computers, consumer electronics and communications) shopping exhibition at the Taipei World Trade Center.

Each day, people were enticed to the event by offers of desktop PCs for a set of vouchers from one adult, or NT$3,600 or laptops for NT$7,200 (US$212).

Not everyone got such great deals, however. These deals were designed to bring people to the show and were limited to 20 desktops and 10 laptops, including Asustek Computer's Eee Box mini-desktops and Asustek Eee PC 904HA netbooks on the laptop side.

Hewlett-Packard offered among the best deals of the show, HP Officejet L7590 all-in-one printers, which normally retail for around NT$13,999 (US$412) in Taiwan, for just NT$3,600 at the show.

Another company, known simply as GMS, was selling near-identical copies of Apple iPod shuffles for NT$299 (US$8.80) in 1GB models, or NT$399 (US$11.75) for 2GB. Digital music players strikingly similar to the iPod nano were also on sale for NT$699 (US$20.60).

The voucher program in Taiwan is similar to the program the U.S. launched last year to stimulate shopping via US$600 tax rebates.