Taiwan’s Top 10 Exports

Taiwan’s Top 10 Exports

by Flagpictures.org

A partially recognized state in East Asia and officially named the Republic of China, Taiwan shipped US$317.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a 4.3% uptick since 2013 and a 13.3% gain from 2016 to 2017.

An island once known as Formosa and now often referred to as Chinese Taipei, Taiwan’s top 10 exports accounted for over four-fifths (82.6%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Taiwan’s exported goods plus services represent 64.8% of total Taiwanese economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, 74.7% of Taiwanese exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 13.1% were sold to North American importers. Taiwan ships another 9.2% worth of goods to European clients. Smaller percentages went to Latin America (excluding Mexico) plus the Caribbean at 1.1%, with just 0.6% sent to Africa.

Given Taiwan’s population of 23.5 million people, its total $317.7 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $13,500 for every resident in that country.

Taiwan’s unemployment rate was 3.68% as of January 2018 down from 3.84% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.

Taiwan’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Taiwanese global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Taiwan.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$141.5 billion (44.5% of total exports)
  2. Machinery including computers: $36.6 billion (11.5%)
  3. Plastics, plastic articles: $20.3 billion (6.4%)
  4. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $16.4 billion (5.2%)
  5. Mineral fuels including oil: $10.9 billion (3.4%)
  6. Vehicles: $9.7 billion (3.1%)
  7. Iron, steel: $9.7 billion (3%)
  8. Organic chemicals: $9.6 billion (3.0%)
  9. Articles of iron or steel: $7.7 billion (2.4%)
  10. Copper: $4.7 billion (1.5%)

Fastest-growing in dollar value among the top 10 export categories from 2013 to 2017 were: copper (up 37.3%), iron or steel products (up 25.3%), organic chemicals (up 21.8%) then machinery including computers (up 21.4%).

  • Copper: Up by 37.3% (US$4.7 billion)
  • Iron, steel: Up by 25.3% (US$9.7 billion)
  • Organic chemicals: Up by 21.8% (US$9.6 billion)
  • Machinery including computers: Up by 21.4% (US$36.6 billion)
  • Plastics, plastic articles: Up by 15.5% (US$20.3 billion)
  • Articles of iron or steel: Up by 14.8% (US$7.7 billion)
  • Electrical machinery, equipment: Up by 14.0% (US$141.5 billion)
  • Mineral fuels including oil: Up by 11.2% (US$10.9 billion)
  • Optical, technical, medical apparatus: Up by 10.7% (US$16.4 billion)
  • Vehicles : Up by 4.2% (US$9.7 billion)
  • The lagging category for Taiwanese exporters was vehicles via its 4.2% increase.


    Overall Taiwan generated a $58 billion trade surplus from all goods bought and sold on international markets during 2017, up 17.2% from the $49.5 billion surplus for 2016.

    The following types of Taiwanese product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. In a nutshell, net exports is the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

    1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$74.1 billion (Up by 12.8% since 2016)
    2. Plastics, plastic articles: $13.3 billion (Up by 19.4%)
    3. Articles of iron or steel: $6.3 billion (Up by 18.1%)
    4. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $5.8 billion (Up by 26.6%)
    5. Knit or crochet fabric: $2.6 billion (Up by 1.2%)
    6. Manmade filaments: $2.5 billion (Up by 3.5%)
    7. Base metal tools, cutlery: $2.3 billion (Up by 11.5%)
    8. Machinery including computers: $1.9 billion (Reversing a -$3.4 billion deficit)
    9. Vehicles : $1.8 billion (Down by -11.2%)
    10. Iron, steel: $1.7 billion (Up by 32.7%)

    Taiwan has highly positive net exports in the international trade of electronic equipment including consumer electronics. In turn, these cashflows indicate Taiwan’s world-renown competitive advantages under the electronics category.


    Below are exports from Taiwan that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Taiwan’s goods trail Taiwanese importer spending on foreign products.

    1. Mineral fuels including oil: US-$29.6 billion (Up by 34.1% since 2016)
    2. Aircraft, spacecraft: -$3 billion (Up by 13.7%)
    3. Pharmaceuticals: -$2.9 billion (Up by 16.3%)
    4. Other chemical goods: -$2.9 billion (Up by 7.6%)
    5. Gems, precious metals: -$2.2 billion (Up by 0.8%)
    6. Ores, slag, ash: -$2 billion (Up by 41%)
    7. Oil seeds: -$1.4 billion (Up by 6%)
    8. Meat: -$1.4 billion (Up by 22.1%)
    9. Cereals: -$1.3 billion (Up by 13.5%)
    10. Inorganic chemicals: -$1.1 billion (Down by -23.6%)

    Taiwan has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related products particularly crude oil, petroleum gases and coal.

    These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Taiwan’s competitive disadvantages in the international energy market, but also represent key opportunities for Taiwan to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations on alternative energy sources.


    Taiwanese Export Companies

    Forty-seven corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Taiwanese companies that Forbes included:

    • Advanced Semiconductor (semiconductors)
    • Asustek Computer (computer hardware)
    • Cheng Shin Rubber Industry Co. (automotive parts)
    • China Steel (iron, steel)
    • Delta Electronics (electronics)
    • Formosa Chemicals (specialized chemicals)
    • Formosa Petrochemical (oil, gas)
    • Formosa Plastics (specialized chemicals)
    • Hon Hai Precision (electronics)
    • Mediatek (semiconductors)
    • Nan Ya Plastics (diversified chemicals)
    • Pegatron (electronics)
    • Quanta Computer (computer hardware)
    • Taiwan Semiconductor (semiconductors)
    • Uni-President (food processing)

    According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following companies are also examples of Taiwanese export companies:

    • Acer Inc. (computers, smartphones, other electronics)
    • Faithful Taiwan (wooden furniture, plastic bags, miscellaneous plastic articles)
    • Hosoda Taiwan (automobile steering mechanisms)
    • Swire Coca Cola Taiwan (soft drinks, green tea, sparkling wines)
    • Taiwan Specco (furniture parts, mountings, seat parts)

    Taiwan’s capital city is Taipei.

    Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

    See also Taiwan’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Taiwan’s Top 10 Imports, Taiwan’s Top Trading Partners and Taiwan’s Top 10 Imports

    Research Sources:
    International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 8, 2018

    The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 8, 2018

    Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 8, 2018

    Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 8, 2018

    Wikipedia, List of Companies of Taiwan. Accessed on March 8, 2018

    Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 8, 2018

    Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 30, 2016