Taiwan occupies an important position in the global economy. Among the country’s most important industries are biotechnology, computers and peripherals, integrated circuits, optoelectronics, precision machinery and telecommunications.
The information and communications technology industry makes up around one-third of Taiwan’s gross domestic product. The country is a leading player in the world’s ICT sector, as well as a major supplier of goods across the industrial spectrum. According to the World Trade Organization, Taiwan was the 20th largest exporter and 19th largest importer of merchandise in 2014. Many authoritative surveys of the global economy—including those conducted by the Business Environment Risk Intelligence, Economist Intelligence Unit and World Economic Forum—rank Taiwan among the world’s top nations year after year with respect to long-term growth and technological development.
While small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the nation’s economy, more and more large enterprises have emerged in recent years. Taiwan companies like Foxconn and Quanta Computer are original design manufacturers renowned for manufacturing products for global brands including Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Dell. Industry in Taiwan is not content to rest on its laurels, though, with a growing number of companies evolving beyond simple manufacturing to creating their own brands. Companies such as Acer, Asus and HTC are forging global brands in the laptop and smartphone markets.
Foreign trade is important to Taiwan’s economy, and government efforts to enhance economic ties with other countries have paid dividends. The nation joined the World Trade Organization in 2002 and has signed free trade agreements with diplomatic allies like Panama and El Salvador. In 2013, Taiwan concluded economic cooperation pacts with New Zealand and Singapore, as well as resuming talks with the U.S. under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement the same year. These developments are expected to assist the country’s participation in regional economic integration agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, as well as in economic development and deepening ties with regional and global partners.