Known as one of the four Asian Tigers, which also include the highly developed economies of Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore, interest among expats worldwide to start a job in Taiwan has been high for a number of years now. With Taiwan’s economy having changed from a mainly agriculturally focused economy to one of the world leaders for high-tech products, this is hardly surprising.
Within one generation, Taiwan’s workforce helped the country progress from an aid-receiving nation to one of the world’s most prosperous — this is also known as the Taiwan Miracle. After a short recession in 2009, Taiwan’s companies came back with full force and helped the national economy achieve double digit growth numbers and keep unemployment figures fairly low.
As probably everyone with more than a passing interest in consumer electronics will be able to tell you, the main focus of companies working in Taiwan has been the high-tech sector, with the production of semiconductors and LCD panels being particularly important pillars. Most companies working in Taiwan’s high-tech sector operate from one of the many science parks that can be found in and around the densely populated metropolises of the country, some of which we have introduced in our article on moving to Taiwan.
The technology sector does not only provide the local population in and around the nation’s largest cities with employment opportunities in Taiwan’s claim to fame sector, but is also one of the main attractors of expats to the country. As the sector is of such importance for the overall image of the Taiwanese economy today, we have dedicated a separate page of this article to taking a closer look at the nation’s science parks and the main industries in which high-tech corporations operate.
It should not come as a surprise to find that, in terms of contributions to the national GDP, the people and companies working in Taiwan’s agricultural sector only play a very minor role, their share being just below 2%. However, the men and women taking care of the nation’s rice fields have made the country independent from imports of this staple food. Seeing how the arable land is rather scarce — about a quarter of the total area — it is remarkable that Taiwan’s rice-producing sector can supply the country’s large population with sufficient amounts of the grain. Furthermore, the country produces sizeable amounts of pork and fish, as well as sugar cane.
High-tech products continue to dominate the industrial output of a majority of companies in Taiwan. Apart from modern technologies, the country also has “classical” industries including textiles, chemicals, plastics, and metallurgy. Production and export of machinery as well as petrochemical industries are among the more prominent and important branches.
With the country’s transformation away from an agriculturally dominated economy to a very modern one came the rise of the tertiary sector. As in most highly developed countries today, the efforts of people working in Taiwan’s services sector make it the largest contributor to the national economy, producing about two-thirds of the GDP. The financial sector is one of the major players among the tertiary sector, owing to the nation’s position as a large global creditor and aid donor with particular focus on Asia. Tourism’s role is also considerable, with more and more locals working in Taiwan’s hospitality sector.
Trade is by far the most important pillar not only of the services sector, but also the economy as a whole; however, this makes a very large percentage of the workforce dependent on the global market and vulnerable to hiccups and crises. This is somewhat counterbalanced by the numbers and importance of small and medium-sized companies working in Taiwan, as they can usually react with more flexibility to economic turbulence.
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