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Taiwan urges calm over panic buying of toilet paper

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Taiwan’s premier called for calm Tuesday following a desperate run on toilet paper on the island, sparked by speculation of imminent price hikes. Shelves usually stacked with toilet paper, kitchen paper and boxed tissues stood empty in many hypermarkets and supermarkets as residents stockpiled supplies. Major online retailers had also run out, including PChome which reportedly sold five million packs of toilet paper in three days.

“We ask the public not to panic and not to rush to buy,” Premier William Lai told reporters. “The supply is sufficient and everybody will have toilet papers to buy,” he said. The panic buying started after major hypermarkets were informed by toilet paper manufacturers of a 10 to 30 percent price hike from mid-March due to rising international pulp prices.

The Fair Trade Commission said it had looked into the matter and met with representatives from three major toilet paper suppliers and five top retailers to warn them against price-fixing on Tuesday. There was online anger as some accused the government of ignoring price fixing by manufacturers. “The government wouldn’t have paid attention if people were not snatching up toilet paper. The lousy government is only saying price-fixing is illegal after the media reported it,” read one post on Apple Daily’s website.

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