TaiwanÆs Financial Supervisory Commission has removed all restrictions on foreign ownership of Taiwan securities.

The move, which took effect on October 14, is a significant departure from the protectionist policies that have eschewed foreign M&A buyers since the original enactment was brought into force in March 1996.

The FSC says it wants to encourage overseas companies to list in Taiwan, and most importantly, to attract foreign individuals and overseas Chinese to invest in its securities market.

The FSC has yet to clarify how the lifting of ownership restrictions specifically affects funds under the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor (QDII) programme.

Despite the general difficulty of securing financing this year, there has also been much noted interest among investors who want to tap into TaiwanÆs infrastructure renewal story. The administration is expected to follow the UKÆs model for private investments. (Editor's note: See the upcoming November issue of AsianInvestor for further analysis.]

The announcement is in line with Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeouÆs vision of turning the islandÆs domestically focused financial sector into a world-class financial services hub on a par with regional competitors, such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

The promise of world-class market infrastructure is intended to divert Taiwanese overseas investments back to the island. In the past, the regulator and the central bank have lamented the fact that the Taiwanese have put too much money outside of their home market. It has often been claimed that these institutions have enacted policies and interfered with the foreign exchange markets to discourage external money flows.

Domestic pension funds, insurers and banking groups have expressed relief in the lifting of the restrictive policies that have been in place for the past decade.

It is interesting to note that the regulatorÆs reluctance to jump on new financial bandwagons û be it to liberalise markets or sanction innovative financial products û has probably protected Taiwan from some of the external shocks caused by global financial market turmoil. However, the timing of the current deregulation, coming at the height of the current credit crisis, has raised questions among some sections of the Taiwanese public.