A dynamic economy and its openness to the outside world make Taiwan well worth exploring. With 3.8% growth in 2015 and only 4% unemployment, the little island enjoys greater purchasing power than France. Per capita GDP is $39,800 compared to $35,800 in mainland France. Taiwan ranks 24th among world powers and is the 18th-largest global exporter and importer. It is also distinguished by its high rates of Research & Development (3rd in the world).
Industry is a pillar of the economy, contributing 30% to the island’s GDP. Taiwan is among the world leading players in information and communication technologies (ICT), which account for 33% of its exports. Automotive, bicycles, engineering, petrochemicals and the manufacture of everyday consumer goods are also strong sectors.
Foreign trade is driving growth
Taiwan’s economic model is based on exchange, and its trade balance shows a structural surplus.
Mainland China (including Hong Kong) is its biggest customer – accounting for 40% of exports – and its main supplier, with 18.1% market share. Other major trading partners are the US, Japan, and the European Union. France ranks third among its European suppliers, with transport equipment the dominant sector – particularly aerospace.
What’s more, France is Taiwan’s leading European partner in the field of culture, and comes in at No. 2 for science. There are 160 French-owned facilities in-country, and over 4,500 French businesses export to the island.
A wealth of opportunities for France
Although little-known in France, Taiwan offers tremendous business potential. Some sectors are particularly promising, thanks to France’s favourable positioning, and strong demand from the Taiwanese market. Consumer goods, health, agri-food, industry and services head the list. France has cornered the market in fashion, fragrances (No. 1) and cosmetics (No. 3). It is also Taiwan’s leading supplier of wines and spirits, with a 54% market share.
Another benefit of Taiwan is the access it offers to the Chinese market. It is the country’s biggest investor and employs 23 million people there – the equivalent of its own population.