Is Taiwan still the land of opportunities?


How else could a guy buy Chelsea?


Russia? I guess the good old oligarchy. It’s like the most backwards country ever.


Arguably, yes. But there have still been clear business opportunities there.


Taiwan was one of the four tigers and had world beating income and GDP growth for a continuous period of three decades or so.

The economy grew an average annual rate of approx 9 per cent per year from 1951 to 1984!
It continued to grow at a phenomenal pace right up to the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

It was actually a notable outlier in history acording to economists
.source : breakout nations

It hit a wall around 2000 or so…


Doesn’t make it a land of opportunities. It’s a very small ethostate.


so, what you’re implying is that something truly dramatic happened to Taiwan around 2000 in terms of economic development/planning by the powers that be of Taiwan.
hmmm…what came about then…


Gee Whiz - The DPP won the presidency with the election of Chen Shui-bian in March 2000 - ya think that had anything to do with it???


Taiwan is a great place to make money still today, taxes are low, rents are low, salaries are low, things work(internet, mrt etc).

Set up something where your income comes from overseas and your costs are on a Taiwanese level


Might be (the land of opportunity). You need a niche.


Some folks have argued that the “wall” Taiwan hit was not the 2000 election of Chen Shui-bian but the fact that we were deceptively unscathed by the 1997 crisis. That one hit Korea hard—and was followed by some deep reform. Taiwan basically kept on going as usual except with massive capital and human outflow to China (again Korea did not follow this path). And look where we are now.



I agree with this. If you know something about renewable energy and things like that, there are opportunities here.



Did you live/work in Taiwan in the 1980s? I did. It was, and not just for a few at the very top.


Perhaps you have a different concept of “opportunity” from the rest of the World population.


There’s not many domestic opportunities, of course there always are some (such as mentioned wind power being the the big one

Those.guys were waiting 15 years for approval ), but domestically for business its kind of tough for foreigners (same could be said for many countries ).

So much guanxi and corruption in Taiwan …Along with fairly static mature market in most industries.

Look at tourism for example, there’s probably still opportunities but most hotel operators got hammered over the last few yeas boom and bust . Maybe adventure tours but again there are lots of competitors.


That’s a Paul Krugman fallacy statement, whereby an economy needs to have a crisis in order to grow (like large earthquakes, financial crisis, etc.).
Taiwan’s banks came out relatively unscathed during the 1997 crisis, because of the structure of loans (and low amount of them). The other Asian countries blew up on a combination of HUGE amount of loans priced in US dollars. So, when their currencies collapsed, so many corporates could not pay back US-dollar loans.
The NT dollar depreciated, yes, but few Taiwan corporate loans were in US dollars.
Fast forward to 2008 crisis and many Taiwanese banks nearly blew up or did blow up, because they were involved in US subprime loans through investments, etc.

Taiwan would Not have been better off if it went thru 1997 like South Korea did.


Taiwan had a property bust back around then, my ex-boss lost his shirt speculating .
There’s a lack of real foreign investment in Taiwan which limits opportunities. If you are into manufacturing nuts and bolts and are a Taiwanese business person they’ll welcome you back with open arms though.
By the way part of the reason that Taiwan grew at the pace it did is self evident, no environmental controls or proper zoning and we are all paying the price still.
Areas such as Changhua (the rice basket of Taiwan ) are still an environmental nightmare to this day. An unbelievable mess.


Well, I certainly am not calling for a massive crisis to turn things around. But how then would you explain the way Korea raced ahead since the late 1990s? Comparatively less exposure (and capital outflow) to China? Something else? I’d be interested in hearing your take.



Quick answer would be brand names of South Korea at higher margins than OEMers of Taiwan, which have to chase cheap labor (ergo, originally China) in order to stay ahead of competitor manufacturers.

South Korea has reclaimed the number one spot in terms of the ratio of research and development spending to gross domestic product (GDP). South Korea’s ratio was 4.55% in 2017, higher than Israel’s 4.25%.
Taiwan was at around 3% in 2015 (obviously on a much lower aggregate GDP value vs SK).


But why has Taiwan been such an abject failure at creating its own global brand names? Long history of chaebols put them at an advantage vs the SMEs of Taiwan?


97% of Taiwanese firms are SMEs.
SK has chaebols, Japan has keiretzu.
Twn has business groups, but they are less significant.
In SK, chaebols account for over 50% of all sales of 3 key industries: electronics, petroleum & coal, and cars & shipbuilding. All heavy industries.
Chaebols have a very high degree of integration. Only one comes to mind in Taiwan: Formosa Plastics Group, which runs from petroleum down to textiles.

Taiwan’s top 80 business groups acct for about 15% of total mfg sector sales and are only 7% of GDP, versus 18% contribution to GDP by chaebols. The data can go on and on.