Working in Taiwan?
Working in Taiwan
At a Glance:
- Taiwan’s economy may have slowed down in the past few years; however, there are still opportunities for expats, especially in the high-tech sector.
- The country relies heavily on trade, which makes it very vulnerable to crises in the global market.
- Science parks play a fundamental role in the success of Taiwan’s high-tech sector: companies in these clusters profit from a great infrastructure, tax benefits, collaboration, and more.
- Subtlety is key in Taiwan’s business etiquette, though Western forms of greetings, for instance, have found their way into the country.
Known as one of the four “Asian Tigers” — which also include the highly developed economies of Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore — Taiwan has been a popular expat destination for years thanks to its position as one of the world leaders for high-tech products.
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 in the following year. The real GDP growth has slowed down since with an estimated 1.7% in 2017. Unemployment figures have remained comparatively low at around 4% across the past few years, though.
Agriculture in Taiwan
In terms of national GDP, Taiwan’s agricultural sector plays only a very minor role, contributing less than 2%. However, the men and women taking care of the nation’s rice fields have made the country nearly independent from imports of this staple food, despite how scarce arable land is in Taiwan (less than a fifth of the total area). The country also produces sizeable amounts of pork and fish.
The High-Tech Sector
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 the many science parks in and around the densely populated metropolises of the country, some of which we have introduced in our article on moving to Taiwan. For more information on the nation’s science parks and the main industries in which high-tech corporations operate, please refer to the second page of this article.
Other Industrial Output
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 chemicals, metallurgy, textiles, and plastics. Production and export of machinery as well as petrochemical industries are also among the more prominent and important branches.
Taiwan’s Services Sector
With the country’s transformation away from an agriculturally dominated economy came the rise of the tertiary sector. As in most highly developed countries today, the efforts of the people working in Taiwan’s services sector make it the largest contributor to the national economy, producing over three-fifths of the GDP.
The financial sector is one of the major players among the tertiary sector, owing to the nation’s position as one of the largest global creditors and aid donor with a particular focus on Asia and Central America. Tourism also plays a considerable role, with more and more locals working in Taiwan’s hospitality sector. However, there’s been a slight decline in Taiwan’s tourism sector due to notably fewer Chinese visitors following the 2016 election of Taiwan’s pro-independence party, as well as due to a general slowdown in China’s economy.
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 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. Despite their strained relationship, the People’s Republic of China is actually Taiwan’s biggest trading partner, followed by the USA and Japan.
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