Top-quality textiles are among the numerous products across the industrial spectrum that Taiwan exports around the world. (Chin Hung-hao)
- Taiwan was the world’s 18th largest
exporter of merchandise in 2018.
- Under the New Southbound Policy, Taiwan
is deepening ties across the board with
the 10 Association of Southeast Asian
Nations member states, six South Asian
countries, Australia and New Zealand.
Taiwan occupies an important position in the global economy.
It is a top player in the world’s information and communication
technology industry as well as a major supplier of goods across the
According to the World Trade Organization, Taiwan was the
18th largest exporter and 17th largest importer of merchandise
in 2018. It was also one of the largest holders of foreign exchange
reserves as of December 2018. Taiwan’s gross domestic product
per capita reached US$25,004 in 2018. In terms of nominal GDP,
Taiwan ranks close to Argentina and Sweden, while Taiwan’s
GDP per capita expressed as purchasing power parity is similar to
that of Austria and Denmark.
After weathering the global financial crisis of 2009, Taiwan’s
export-oriented economy took another hit in 2015, mainly
due to the weak global demand for consumer electronics
products, coupled with the falling price of crude oil. Taiwan’s
economy grew only 0.81 percent and its overall trade volume
decreased by 13.2 percent in 2015. The situation has improved
since 2016, and statistics indicate that in 2018 Taiwan’s overall
exports and imports increased by 5.9 percent and 10.4 percent
respectively, while its economy expanded 2.63 percent.
Annual surveys of the world’s economies, including those
conducted by the World Economic Forum, Business
Environment Risk Intelligence and the Economist Intelligence
Unit, have ranked Taiwan among the top nations year after
year with respect to long-term growth and technological
development. Results announced in 2018-2019 were no
exception (see table “Global Survey Rankings” p. 56-57).
In July 2013, Taiwan signed an economic cooperation
agreement with New Zealand, its first with a member of the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. An
economic partnership accord was also inked with Singapore in
November the same year, marking Taiwan’s first such pact with
a trading partner in Southeast Asia. Both agreements go beyond
Taiwan has also completed research with Indonesia and India
on the feasibility of an economic cooperation agreement, with
the results released in Jakarta in December 2012 and in New
Delhi in September 2013, respectively. Developments such as
the economic pacts with New Zealand and Singapore as well as the ECAs are expected to facilitate the country’s participation in
such regional economic integration blocs as the Comprehensive
and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Since May 2016, Taiwan has adopted the New Model for
Economic Development. This seeks to boost growth by
promoting innovation, increasing employment and ensuring the
equitable distribution of economic benefits. Under the model,
Taiwan is striving to strengthen global and regional connections
through initiatives such as the New Southbound Policy, which
aims to diversify the nation’s international markets by expanding links with ASEAN member states, as well as South Asia,
Australia and New Zealand. Taiwan will continue monitoring
the development of regional economic integration and seek all
possible opportunities for participation.
To boost domestic investment and enhance the nation’s global
competitiveness, the New Model for Economic Development
prioritizes the promotion of the five-plus-two industrial
innovation program. These are the five emerging and highgrowth
sectors of biotech and pharmaceuticals, green energy,
national defense, smart machinery and Internet of Things, as well
as two core concepts: the circular economy and a new paradigm
for agricultural development. Also comprising the Asia Silicon Valley development plan in northern Taiwan’s Taoyuan City, the
initiative seeks to cultivate core drivers of future growth.
The government is also promoting the Forward-looking
Infrastructure Development Program to meet national
infrastructure needs over the next 30 years. This program
contains eight major elements: railway development, digital
infrastructure, aquatic environments, food safety, green energy,
urban-rural development, boosting birthrates and child care
facilities, and nurturing talent and employment.
Under this approach, the government aims to raise wage levels
and enhance regional development. As it works to advance innovative industries, the government is also committed to
protecting the environment. With this in mind, the new
economic model seeks to fully integrate industrial restructuring,
national land-use planning and regional growth strategies to
foster sustainable development while promoting the use of green