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Taiwan's 2013 Trade Rankings Lag Behind Asia's 3 Dragons: WTO

Jun 12, 2014 | By CENS

Taiwan's global ranking in merchandise import in 2013 remained the same as in 2012 at 18th, far below South Korea's 7th and Hong Kong's 9th, and even behind Singapore's 14th, according to a report recently released by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In the same year Taiwan's merchandise exports dropped two positions to 20th from a year earlier, the lowest ranking among Asia's Four Dragons, a term that some observers said on Taiwanese TV that is no longer relevant. As for commercial service exports, Taiwan's global ranking fell to 26th from 25th in the previous year, while its ranking in commercial services imports declined to 30th from 28th.

In 2013 Taiwan's export value edged up 1.4% year-on-year to US$305.4 billion, the second highest on record and accounting for 1.6% of the global total, with the global ranking declining two notches to the 20th.

In contrast, South Korea's export value in the same year reached US$560 billion to become the world's 7th largest exporter; and its commercial services exports came to US$112 billion to be the world's 13th, both of which being much higher than those of Taiwan's.

An economics official in Taiwan attributes Taiwan's lackluster trade performance to its inking of free trade agreements with only a few countries that hardly helps with trade competitiveness globally.

The official urges that it is imperative for Taiwan to quickly pass the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement with China to pave the way for the following Cross-Strait Trade in Merchandise Agreement. It is believed that the trade agreement with China helps create favorable conditions for Taiwan's access of  regional trade blocs.

Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER), a major economic think tank in Taiwan, has recently raised its prediction of Taiwan's GDP growth in 2014 by 0.02 of a percentage point to 3.16%, also raising 0.31 of a percentage point to 4.55% its prediction for private investment.

In addition CIER has also slightly raised its forecast of the island's capital goods & services exports by 0.25 of a percentage point to 3.96% for 2014, but reduced the forecast by 0.02 of a percentage point to 1.3% in consumer price index (CPI) growth.

M.C. Liu, director of the Center for Economic Forecasting at CIER, indicates that Taiwan's economic growth may face some uncertainties for the year, including the recent protest against the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement which somehow hurt the domestic investment environment and discourage foreign investors; the foreseeable impact on global economy by the withdrawal of U.S. quantitative easing policy; and the potential fallout due to  China's economic slowdown. (JL)


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