© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Syringes with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to be administered against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lie on a tray during a walk-in program in Sant Vicenc de Casteller, north of Barcelona, Spain, 6 de July 2021. REUTERS / Alber
By Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee
TAIPEI (Reuters) – TSMC and Taiwan’s Foxconn said on Sunday they were in the midst of signing the contract to purchase COVID-19 vaccines from Germany’s (NASDAQ 🙂 BioNTech SE, part of a lengthy and highly politicized process for Taiwan to access the shot.
The Taiwanese government has been trying for months to buy the vaccine directly from BioNTech and has blamed China, which claims the autonomous island is its own territory, for rejecting an agreement that the two sides were supposed to sign earlier this year. China denies the accusations.
Last month, in the face of public pressure over the slow pace of Taiwan’s vaccination program, the government agreed to allow Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Taiwan’s Foxconn, as well as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), to negotiate vaccines on its behalf. , which would be donated to the government of Taiwan for distribution.
“There are several parties. We are in the middle of the contract signing process. We will make announcements once the process is complete,” TSMC said in a statement.
Foxconn used almost the exact same wording in a separate statement. Neither of them elaborated.
Both companies are the main suppliers of Apple Inc (NASDAQ :).
BioNTech and Fosun did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Gou’s spokesman said: “When there is more news, we will formally explain it to the outside world.” She did not elaborate.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang only said that the vaccine talks were ongoing.
“Once there is a final result, we will naturally inform everyone.”
A source briefed on the matter told Reuters that the contract talks were “not yet 100% complete,” while another source said that although they were close to finalizing the deal, uncertainties remained.
“It has become increasingly clear that it is not the part of Taiwan that is complicating the signing of the contract,” said the second source, referring to the additional “obstacles” set by Beijing.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not respond to calls seeking comment outside of Sunday’s business hours.
Gou and TSMC reached an initial agreement this month with a subsidiary of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd, which has a contract with BioNTech to sell COVID-19 vaccines in China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, sources told Reuters previously.
Both Gou and TSMC seek 5 million doses each.
The BioNTech vaccine drama has paralyzed Taiwan and dominated the headlines. A major Taiwanese Buddhist group, the Tzu Chi Foundation, is also trying to purchase the injections, which were developed jointly with Pfizer (NYSE :).
The Chinese government has repeatedly said that if Taiwan wants the vaccine, it must abide by trade rules and do so through Fosun.
The German government has also been involved, saying it has been assisting in direct talks between Taiwan and BioNTech.
Taiwan has orders for millions of vaccines, mainly from AstraZeneca (NASDAQ 🙂 Plc and Modern (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc, while the United States and Japan together have donated nearly five million doses to the island to help speed up vaccinations.
About a tenth of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people have received at least one of the two-injection regimen, although Taiwan’s relatively small internal coronavirus outbreak is now largely under control.