Taiwan shipped US$280.5 billion worth of products around the globe in 2016. That figure represents roughly 1.7% of overall global exports estimated at $16.236 trillion one year earlier during 2015.
From a continental perspective, almost three-quarters (73.7%) of Taiwan’s total exports by value in 2016 were delivered to other Asian trade partners.
North American importers purchased 13.4% of Taiwanese shipments while 9.4% worth of products arrived in European countries.
At 0.7%, a tinier portion of Taiwanese exports were bought by African importers.
Taiwan’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Taiwan’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Taiwanese shipments by dollar value during 2016. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Taiwanese exports.
- China: US$73.9 billion (26.4% of total Taiwanese exports)
- Hong Kong: $38.4 billion (13.7%)
- United States: $33.6 billion (12%)
- Japan: $19.6 billion (7%)
- Singapore: $16.2 billion (5.8%)
- South Korea: $12.8 billion (4.6%)
- Vietnam: $9.6 billion (3.4%)
- Philippines: $8.7 billion (3.1%)
- Malaysia: $7.8 billion (2.8%)
- Germany: $5.9 billion (2.1%)
- Thailand: $5.5 billion (2%)
- Netherlands: $4.5 billion (1.6%)
- United Kingdom: $3.6 billion (1.3%)
- Australia: $3.1 billion (1.1%)
- India: $2.8 billion (1%)
Almost nine-tenths (87.7%) of Taiwanese exports in 2016 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
All of these top importers increased their purchases from Taiwan from 2009 to 2016. Fastest-increases were for the Philippines (up 97%), Malaysia (up 94.9%), Singapore (up 89.4%) and South Korea (up 76.7%).
Posting the most modest improvements were the Netherlands (up 6.9%) and India (up 12.4%).
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
In 2016, Taiwan incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- Japan: -US$21.1 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2016)
- Saudi Arabia: -$4.6 billion
- Australia: -$3 billion
- Kuwait: -$2.8 billion
- Germany: -$2.7 billion
- Qatar: -$2.3 billion
- South Korea: -$1.9 billion
- Russia: -$1.7 billion
- Indonesia: -$1.6 billion
- France: -$1.6 billion
Among trading partners with the greatest negative trade balances, four expanded their deficits with Taiwan from 2009 to 2016: France (up 278.9%), Qatar (up 219.1%), Germany (up 175.5%) and Russia (up 8.9%).
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Taiwan’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Taiwan to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus. Overall, Taiwan generated a $280.5 billion trade surplus from all goods bought and sold on international markets during 2016 up 38.8% from a $202 billion surplus for 2009.
In 2016, Taiwan incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- Hong Kong: US$37.1 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2016)
- China: $29.9 billion
- Singapore: $8.6 billion
- Vietnam: $6.8 billion
- Philippines: $6.4 billion
- United States: $4.8 billion
- United Kingdom: $1.8 billion
- Thailand: $1.7 billion
- Malaysia: $1.6 billion
- Mexico: $1.1 billion
Among Taiwan’s trading partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, Taiwanese surpluses with Philippines (up 130.9%), Singapore (up 130.4%) and Mexico (up 52%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Taiwan’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Taiwan to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Taiwanese Trading Partners
Forty-seven corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. Below is a sample of the major Taiwanese companies that Forbes included:
- Hon Hai Precision (electronics)
- Taiwan Semiconductor (semiconductors)
- Formosa Petrochemical (oil, gas)
- Formosa Chemicals (specialized chemicals)
- Quanta Computer (computer hardware)
- China Steel (iron, steel)
- Nan Ya Plastics (diversified chemicals)
- Formosa Plastics (specialized chemicals)
- Uni-President (food processing)
- Asustek Computer (computer hardware)
- Mediatek (semiconductors)
- Delta Electronics (electronics)
- Advanced Semiconductor (semiconductors)
- Pegatron (electronics)
- Cheng Shin Rubber Industry Co. (automotive parts)
According to IMPORTERS.com listings for Taiwanese suppliers, the following are companies that ship products from Taiwan to its trading partners around the globe. Shown within parenthesis are examples of products that the Taiwanese business provides.
- Ever Honor Industries, Inc (food coloring, additives)
- Fuho Technology Co Ltd (vehicle video recorders)
- Hoya International Co, Ltd (industrial tools)
- Intertrust Corporation (aerosol can goods )
- J&A Information Inc (computer memory products)
- Li Jun Enterprise Co, Ltd (marine diesel engines, parts)
- Lian Jeng Co (milling machines)
- Paichang Corporation (electronics, e-cigarettes)
- Stars Navigation Technologies Ltd (GPS, tracking equipment)
- Weld Want Group Co, Ltd (super glue, adhesives)
See also Taiwan’s Top 10 Imports, Highest Value Taiwanese Import Products, Taiwan’s Top Trading Partners and Highest Value Taiwanese Export Products
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 10, 2017
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on March 10, 2017
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on March 10, 2017
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 10, 2017
IMPORTERS.com The Online Market for G20 Importers, Taiwan Import Export Directory. Accessed on March 10, 2017