Riding the wave

Taiwan’s changing financial climate

Riding the wave

Taiwan is the 19th largest economy in the world according to Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), and the 24th largest in nominal GDP of investment and foreign trade. 

A desirable expatriate business destination

The rapid economic growth rate since the 2009 slump has filed Taiwan as a Newly Industrialized Country, making it an attractive opportunity for any business self starter wishing to expand or start a fresh.

Taiwan is popular amongst Western and Asian expatriates due to its capitalist economy and entrepreneurial strengths, which provides a wealth of business opportunities for international career-driven professionals. Its capitalist roots mean that Taiwan is a desirable destination for expats with business interests and also why it is an economic rarity - it is one of the few Asian countries to have suffered very little from the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-1999. 

Another reason why Taiwan is quite unique compared to other Asian countries is that its government is gradually decreasing its guidance over investment and foreign trade. This has resulted in the privatisation of a number of large, state-owned banks and industrial firms.

Taiwan is building on this expatriate demand by concreting its interest in international trade. This is by establishing its place as member of the Asian Development Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Chamber of Commerce (Under the name Chinese Taipei).   


When thinking about Taiwan’s major industries, your first thoughts are probably about ‘Made in Taiwan’ toys and clothes. Taiwan has, however, moved on from the industries that it was famed for in the 1970’s and its major exports now include electronics, machinery and petrochemicals. 

Taiwan’s export industry is crucial to the country as it amounts to 70 percent of its economy. As the economy is dependent on exports, it can be unstable, if there are changes in export demand, or the corresponding countries have financial problems. This has been the case in recent years, as the economy is heavily dependent on demand from its top five trade partners - China, Japan, the USA, the European Union and Hong Kong. All have had economic woes of their own, which has directly impacted trade.   

Current economic climate

Due to the current global financial climate, economic growth has slowed down greatly (1.25% in 2012). In his New Year’s Address for 2013, Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou’s thanked Taiwanese residents for ‘toughing it out’ and promised them that Taiwan’s economy ‘will definitely perform better’ in 2013. 

Recently, Taiwan signed a direct yuan clearing system, meaning that yuan transactions in Taiwan are now possible. This has made trade between mainland China and Taiwan more open in the hope that Taiwan will play a key role in the internationalisation of the Chinese yuan.

Further reading

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