The Dive

The Economy of Taiwan - Industry & Market Trends in 2023

Last Updated: July 22, 2023


What is The Overall Outlook in Taiwan?

With a per capita GDP of more than 30,000 US dollars, Taiwan is one of the richest economies in Asia excluding OPEC/OPEN+ countries, ranking alongside South Korea, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, and Hong Kong. Over the past 10 years, GDP has grown by an average of 3.2%, making it one of the fastest growing countries among high-income countries.

In the 1960s, Taiwan experienced economic and industrial reforms and rapid social development. With the aid of the United States Agency for International Development (US$4 billion in financial aid and loans between 1945 and 1965), Taiwan built a huge industrial infrastructure, communication and education systems, Known as the top ten construction and economic miracles, Taiwan has become one of the four Asian tigers and entered the ranks of developed economies.

Under the export-oriented industrialization growth model, with economic growth and wage increase, many industries with high labor intensity lost their competitiveness in the international market. At that time, the pressure on the government from the enterprise side was also increasing day by day. After the
Wang–Koo summit, Taiwanese businessmen’s investment and trade with mainland China were finally relaxed. Over the next two decades, Taiwan also gradually moved its labor-intensive production capacity to mainland China.

With the rapid economic growth of mainland China, the demand for products exported from Taiwan has also greatly increased. Against this backdrop, Taiwan’s exports to China of the ICT industry, agriculture, forestry and fishery, and even other consumer goods for the people’s livelihood also increased rapidly during this period. Although political conflicts between China and Taiwan still existed or even intensified during this period, Taiwan’s economic growth mainly came from the increasingly close economic and trade exchanges with China.

However, as China’s infrastructure matures and its labor and talent capabilities are sufficient, the Chinese government and companies are gradually strengthening their ability to locally manufacture many intermediate products (Taiwan’s main export) and investing more in import-substitution development. Such development has also forced Taiwan’s exports to China to shift to high-tech products, and other industries are forced to explore new markets to tap growth momentum.

Even Taiwan’s leading industries are under pressure in the face of China’s own huge labor market, capital investment and growing innovation capabilities. At the same time, under the background of Sino-US competition, Taiwan has lost the opportunity to export many advanced products to China, and the smaller domestic consumer market (due to slow income growth and low private consumption ratio) is also difficult to fill this gap. Therefore, as the global economy gradually slips into low growth or even recession in the near term, it will be difficult for Taiwan to realize its potential growth potential.

While it may help fuel another wave of export dynamism through industrial consolidation and the development of indigenous innovation capabilities, China’s foreign policy repression and influence over Taiwan’s trading nations also make it difficult for Taiwan to participate in many regional trade agreements , such as CPTPP.

In Taiwan’s future development, labor productivity, Sino-US diplomacy, industrial innovation, and regional economic integration will be the most important driving forces for development.

Table of Contents
Real GDP Growth(%)|Data After 2023 is forecasted by IMF
GDP Per Capita (Current $)|Data After 2023 is forecasted by IMF

Economic Structure

Taiwan - Economic Structure & Forecast

GDP Data is updated in January, 2023. Figures below represent GDP contribution with the expenditure approach by segment. Data is sourced from World Bank, IMF, and local government and refactored by our team. Forecasted data is from EIU.

Private Consumption
Government Expenditure
Capital Formation
Net Export

Economy Outlook

Economic Snapshot of Taiwan

Taiwan’s economic health has experienced a noticeable downturn, occurring concurrently with a period of relative stability in external markets such as China and the US. China’s consumer market has proven robust, but the rate of growth is likely to decelerate. In the US, despite the apparent resilience of economic data, inventory burdens cast a shadow. Advanced economies’ previous monetary policy tightening and the increasingly restrictive credit conditions in the banking sector signify a dimmer global economic forecast.

The weakening global growth outlook inevitably impacts Taiwan, leading to an expected significant cooling of its export momentum in the current year. The substantial tightening of global financial conditions and a squeeze on real incomes will most acutely affect goods exporters. Despite an anticipated moderation in the pace of contraction across Asia over the coming quarters, Taiwan’s export sector is particularly vulnerable due to its heavy reliance on China, which accounts for about 30% of its exports. This is compounded by the ongoing downturn in the semiconductor cycle. TSMC, Taiwan’s leading semiconductor company, reported a more prolonged semiconductor inventory adjustment than expected, with a predicted trough by the end of Q2 2023.

Given the current scenario, private consumption is also expected to decelerate due to more stringent financing conditions, diminishing consumer confidence, and the fading impact of the economy’s reopening. In response, authorities have rolled out a new series of cash handouts, using unspent tax revenues from the previous year. This stimulus package, amounting to roughly 0.6% of Taiwan’s GDP, is hoped to curb the decline in private consumption for the remainder of the year.

Navigating this difficult economic environment requires a careful balancing act. In light of the formidable external challenges and the sluggish domestic recovery, the 2023 GDP growth is now projected to be a marginal 0.1%, just avoiding an annual contraction thanks to timely government intervention.

Several key factors underpin the short-term outlook of Taiwan. Firstly, Taiwan’s export sector is set to contract significantly this year. As a clear indication of this, export orders in March declined by a massive 25.7% y/y in USD terms, the most substantial decline since the global financial crisis, fuelled by weaker demand across nearly all product categories. Orders from mainland China and Hong Kong suffered the most, dropping almost 34% y/y. Meanwhile, orders from the US and ASEAN also reported marginal falls. Consequently, total exports in real terms are predicted to contract by 8.8% this year.

Despite these challenges, Taiwan’s fiscal policy is anticipated to remain supportive, thanks to strong fiscal buffers. The 2023 budget has been expanded by over 20% y/y to NT$2.7tn (US$88bn), allowing for the possibility of additional support measures if the downturn proves to be more severe than expected. Possible measures could include subsidies for electricity prices or reductions in health and labor insurance schemes.

Finally, inflation is expected to continue its downward trend, easing to 2.1% this year due to the pullback in key commodity markets, persistent weakness in labor market pressures, emerging signs of improvements in supply bottlenecks, and the financial tightening associated with the USD’s strength. However, heightened imported inflationary pressures due to TWD depreciation pose a significant risk. Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Taiwan, after five consecutive rate hikes, is likely to halt further increases in response to clear signs of slowing growth momentum and easing price pressures. Based on the current growth and inflation outlook, Taiwan’s terminal rate is predicted to settle below 2% in 2023, a level likely still below neutral according to our estimates.

Unemployment Rate(%)|Forecasted data for after 2023
Inflation Rate(%)|Forecasted data for after 2023

Industry Structure

Taiwan - Industry Breakdown & Forecast

GDP Data is updated in January, 2023. Figures below represent GDP contribution with the expenditure approach by segment. Data is sourced from World Bank, IMF, and local government and refactored by our team. Forecasted data is from EIU.

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Demographic Outlook

Demographic Outlook in Taiwan

Taiwan’s current population growth rate is very small, even in 2020, the population has already experienced negative growth, and the Ministry of the Interior announced in July 2022 that the national population as of the first half of 2022 will decrease by another 300,000 compared to last year The population has experienced negative growth for two and a half consecutive years.

The main reason for the population decline comes from the very low total fertility rate (TFR) in Taiwan. In 2021, the total fertility rate in Taiwan will only be 0.975, with an average of less than one child per woman, the second lowest in the world, only the highest in South Korea (0.81). Some of the reasons why the fertility rate is so low are caused by complex social factors. Having a child will increase the cost of housing, education and childcare, bringing a greater financial burden on life. And like other developed countries, most women in Taiwan work and often have higher education and vocational training.

The National Development Council predicts that due to the rapid aging of the population, the number of deaths will increase rapidly, and the rate of population decline will increase in the future. By 2070, the population will drop to 14.49-17.16 million, which is about 60% to 70% of that in 2022. . And a shrinking population will hurt Taiwan’s productivity and take away technology and education spending to pay for pensions and medical benefits (second-generation health insurance) for an aging population.

In addition to economic problems, population decline will also impact national defense security. In particular, Taiwan’s geopolitics and cross-strait tensions are becoming increasingly tense, and the declining birth rate will make it difficult to increase the number of troops. According to the report of the Budget Center of the Legislative Yuan, although the number of volunteers in the national army has reached more than 160,000, the number of officers and soldiers in some combat units The current ratio is still below 80%.

Housing rights are also a big social issue in Taiwan, with new figures from the Ministry of the Interior showing that, on average, a person would have to save their entire salary for more than nine years to be able to afford their own home. And if it is in Taipei City, you need to invest more than 16 years of income. Meanwhile, mortgages now cost about 38.35% of median income, another record high. This means households are increasingly unable to purchase property with loans.

Racial Profile

Han Chinese (including Holo, who compose approximately 70% of Taiwan's population, Hakka, and other groups originating in mainland China) more than 95%, indigenous Malayo-Polynesian peoples 2.3%

Languages Used

Mandarin (official), Taiwanese (Min Nan), Hakka dialects, approximately 16 indigenous languages

Religions Practiced

Buddhist 35.3%, Taoist 33.2%, Christian 3.9%, folk religion (includes Confucian) approximately 10%, none or unspecified 18.2% (2005 est. by CIA)

Population Structure

Taiwan - Population Pyramid

Political Outlook

Political Outlook & Policy Trends in Taiwan

With the 2020 legislative and presidential elections over, the DPP has a majority and the re-election of President Tsai Ing-wen makes legislation relatively easy. In the election at the end of 2022, the Kuomintang won the local government election by a significant margin compared with the previous election, and after the younger People’s Party won the mayor election of Hsinchu City, it became the first time in Taiwan to win the mayor. third party.

Political System

Taiwan’s political system is a semi-presidential system, with the so-called one government and five courts (Presidential Palace, Executive Yuan, Legislative Yuan, Judicial Yuan, Examination Yuan, and Supervisory Yuan) to realize the operation and mutual supervision of the central government. The President is mainly responsible for the relationship between the state and the military. The Legislative Yuan has the power to pass or veto bills, government budgets, and even whether to start a war.

Political power in Taiwan is dispersed among the President (Tsai Ing-wen), the Premier (Chen Chien-jen), and the Legislative Yuan. The Legislative Yuan is often regarded as the National Assembly of the Republic of China, and the Executive Yuan has the obligation to submit a policy report to the Legislative Yuan and implement relevant policies; the President focuses on formulating and launching policy directions.

When the ruling party holds a majority of seats in the National Assembly, the legislative process is relatively simple, and the opposition party with a minority of seats has no specific means to block the process. Therefore, in Taiwanese politics, resorting to sit-ins or not participating in voting to express their demands often occurs. However, Taiwan’s relatively high degree of media freedom and people actively participating in politics have enabled the ruling party to be supervised by forces outside the parliament in the legislative process.

For example, in 2006, the Kuomintang and People First Party members proposed the removal of President Chen Shui-bian. After not more than two-thirds of the legislators agreed, politicians organized the people to take to the streets and launched the Red Shirt Movement, which led to the resignation of the then president. The same incident also happened with the service trade agreement between mainland China and the cross-strait under President Ma. In addition, after the referendum law was passed, the Kuomintang organized referendums on same-sex marriage, energy policy, and the Raizhu incident, but they failed in the final election.

Policy Making Direction

As global growth subsides in 2023, key policy priorities will focus on revitalizing household spending, countering the softening demand for Taiwanese goods and the impact of stringent credit conditions on investment, employment, and incomes. Authorities are predicted to employ multiple rounds of consumption stimulus to achieve this goal. The anticipated April 2023 disbursement, offering one-off subsidies of NT$6,000 (US$193) per household, may however be diverted towards savings by households, in response to dwindling consumer confidence and escalating economic uncertainties.

In her final full calendar year in office, Ms Tsai and the DPP will tackle the long-term objectives outlined in her policy agenda. Addressing intergenerational equality, extending social housing, and augmenting childcare and eldercare support will take precedence. While the government plans to implement another minimum wage increase in September 2023, the increment is projected to be relatively modest in comparison to previous years. The expected economic slowdown may constrain substantial wage augmentation in the private sector. Despite this, real average wage levels, expected to stagnate in 2023, are predicted to bounce back in 2024 as growth prospects rally. However, officials may grapple with surging living costs, the looming threat of industrial competition, and talent-poaching from China.

Efforts to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure and stimulate investment will be driven by the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Programme and the “5+2” Industrial Innovation Programme over the next five years. Emphasis will be placed on developing digital infrastructure, with the government fostering “six core strategic industries”, including renewable energy and next-generation information technology, to attract future foreign investment.

In 2021, Taiwan extended economic incentives, such as subsidized loans and expedited land acquisition, to domestic firms affected by the China-US discord to encourage re-shoring production from China. These measures aim to leverage Taiwanese companies’ efforts to decrease their supply-chain dependency on China. Amid the worsening regional geopolitical tensions, investment repatriation is expected to continue through 2023-27.

In the diplomatic relations between Southeast Asia and India, the signature policy of the Tsai administration is the so-called “New Southbound Policy”, focusing on the ten ASEAN countries, six South Asian countries, and New Zealand and Australia. Under the impact of China’s economic slowdown, domestic active promotion of import substitution, trade obstruction to Taiwan, and US trade sanctions against China, this policy has just dispersed the dependence of many companies on the Chinese mainland market, which is why they are different For the Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian administrations, this southbound policy has created clear political achievements.

However, whether Taiwan can join the CPTPP will also affect its performance in the “new southbound market”; if it succeeds, Taiwan’s industries other than ICT will also gain more growth momentum. With the growth of national consumption power in the ASEAN countries and the Indian market, and the continuous improvement of industrial productivity, Taiwan’s economic development potential will be further stimulated.

ROC Legislative Yuan 2020 Election Results
Note: No Left–Right Categorization
Current Account Balance (% of GDP)|Forecasted data for after 2023
Government Debt (% of GDP)|Forecasted data for after 2023

Foreign Policy

Trade & Foreign Investment In Taiwan

Export (Million Dollars | Nominal)
Export - Percentage of World (‱)
Foreign Direct Investment (Million Dollars | Nominal)
FDI - Percentage of World (‱)

Consumer Outlook

Taiwan - Consumer & Market Outlook

We work with 3rd party data offices and our experts network to deliver the most comprehensive retail & consumer behavior landscape there is.

E-Commerce Development, Penetration, Trends & Outlook in Taiwan

Social Media Development, User Demographics, Platforms, and Trends in Taiwan

  • Economic Data:OECD, World Bank, IMF、Government Statistics Bureau
  • Currency Exchange:Based on IMF data in 2023/1
  • GDP Growth Projection:OECD、IMF, OECD, EIU、Government Bureau
  • Demographics:UN Population Database
  • Race, Culture, and Languages:CIA Factbook
  • Unemployment Rate Projection:ILO, UNECE
  • Trade:UN Comtrade, UNCTD
  • ICT Infrastructure:ITU
  • Data Calculation &
  • Analysis:OOSGA Analytics
Author: Economic Team, FR Team

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