cens logo

THTMA Chairman Wu Remains Optimistic Towards Sustained Buoyancy of Taiwan's Hand Tool Industry Amid Challenges

Taiwan's hand tool exports up 2.6% in first 5 months to buck overall downtrend

Sep 24, 2015 | By Steve Chuang

Arthur Wu, chairman of THTMA and Proxene Tools Co., Ltd., Taiwan’s top-end wrench maker.Arthur Wu, chairman of THTMA and Proxene Tools Co., Ltd., Taiwan’s top-end wrench maker.
While Taiwan has posted several consecutive months of negative export growths this year to mark its worst export performance ever in the past six years, hence likely to see flat growth in its export-driven economy this year, Arthur Wu, chairman of Taiwan Hand Tool Manufacturers' Association (THTMA) seems unfazed to still express optimism towards sustained buoyancy of Taiwan's hand tool industry in the years ahead at the THTMA annual general meeting (AGM) held mid-September in Taichung, central Taiwan, the hub of the island's hand tool industry due to clustering of many makers and subcontract suppliers in the region.

Affected by persistently weak international oil prices and slowing economy in China and India as well as other emerging countries as Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, coupled with greatly devalued Japanese yen, Korean won and euro, Taiwan's exports totaled US$23.93 billion in August, increased US$380 million from the previous month but dropped US$4.14 billion, or 14.8 percent, from last August, according to the report issued by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) in mid-September.

The MOF reported that the figures show a continual fall for the ninth consecutive month on a yearly basis, as well as a sustained double-digit drop for the third consecutive month, being Taiwan's worst export recession since the 2008 financial crisis.

For the first eight months of 2015, Taiwan's cumulative exports shrank by 8.8 percent to US$189.89 billion compared to the same period of 2014.

Based on such export performance, Taiwan's GDP growth, which relies mainly on exports, is hence expected by economists and market observers to sizably slow to sub-1 percent in 2015, compared to over 3 percent forecast earlier in the year.

Despite the lackluster economic prospects, under which most of Taiwan's major manufacturing industries, including precision machinery, ICT (information and communication technology)-based devices, petroleum, chemicals, etc., will likely suffer declines in 2015, chairman Wu of THTMA optimistically stressed at the AGM that Taiwan's hand tool sector will likely remain in comparatively good shape for a couple of reasons.

The AGM attracted a large number of industry insiders, executives and personalities with close ties to Taiwan's hand tool industry, including CENS' general manager Tommy Ni, who was seated in the VIP section at the venue.

Positive Growth Achieved
In his opening speech at the AGM, Wu noted that Taiwanese exporters from different industries have widely encountered new challenges in the global market since international oil prices began to spiral downward in the second half of 2014, coupled with the lingering impact of the Greek debt crisis, which caused the euro to have continuously depreciated, once to a nadir of one euro to US$1.056. In contrast the New Taiwan dollar had appreciated 21.55 percent year on year until early 2015 to severely dampen Taiwanese suppliers' price competitiveness. Meanwhile sub-US$50 per barrel crude oil prices have resulted in downsizing of operations by smaller, less-cost-efficient oil explorers to impact downstream equipment suppliers. In addition geopolitical risks as ISIS-related unrest in the Mid-East, the fallout from the Russian annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine also dampen global economic prospects. Furthermore, Taiwan suppliers seem to be perturbed by the rise of the so-called “Red Supply Chain” (a term coined by market observers to indicate China's determination to step up developing local tech industries to reduce dependence on imports), as well as threats resulting from continuously depreciating Japanese yen and Korean won.

Quoting the latest report issued by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) on August 19 to emphasize the current uphill battle for Taiwanese manufacturers, Wu furthered that Taiwan's exports have continuously dropped since this February, leading to a 9.21 percent decline in Taiwan's overall manufacturing output of about NT$3.3 trillion (approximately US$103.12 billion) in the second quarter of this year, which was the steepest single-quarter drop in the past six years. This resulted in Taiwan's quarterly GDP growth significantly slowing to only a 0.52 percent in the quarter from 3.37 percent seen a quarter ago.

Notwithstanding such formidable challenges, Wu said proudly that Taiwanese hand tool suppliers generally have achieved robust sales, as reflected by the industry's buoyant exports that hit NT$101.67 billion (US$3.17 billion) in 2014 for a 6.2 percent growth over 2013, with a 2.6 percent increase in the first five months of 2015 over the same period of 2014 (Data sources: Taiwan Institute of Economic Research and Metal Industries Research & Development Centre, respectively).

Reporting additional good news to consolidate his optimism for the industry's sustained growth, the chairman stated that some of THTMA's members have even chalked up 20 percent growth in cumulative exports for the January-July period, underlining unparalleled adaptability and fortitude of Taiwanese hand tool manufacturers in the face of market volatility.

Backed by the abovementioned traits, coupled with hard work on continuous improvement of quality and value, Wu believes that Taiwanese hand tool suppliers will likely finish the year with positive growth in exports, which has been made possible partly by the collective efforts of government and THTMA, who have engaged in projects to aid the industry upgrade and explore overseas markets over the past few years.

Wu stresses that Taiwan’s hand tool industry remains in good shape despite the island’s worst export recession ever in the past six years.Wu stresses that Taiwan’s hand tool industry remains in good shape despite the island’s worst export recession ever in the past six years.

Governmental Support
Giving credit where it is due, Wu expressed appreciation particularly to the Taichung City Hall, which has sponsored for three consecutive years the Taiwan Hardware Show (THS), organized by Kaigo Co., Ltd., to be held in Taichung, which has effectively helped build links between the industry and the city to have achieved positive results.

For instance, Wu said, THS saw its turnout further grow in 2014, when more than 320 exhibitors and 25,500 visitors and buyers from all over the world were recorded, up 6.7 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively, from the 2013 edition, mostly thanks to financial support from the Taichung City Hall to turn the city through the exhibition into the hub of hand tools for global buyers.

Emulating the Productivity 4.0 project promulgated by the central government, Taichung City Hall has recently mapped out a program designed to assist local traditional manufacturing industries, including hand tools, to upgrade and automate production, so as to help address manpower shortage and enhance added-value, said Wu. To coordinate with the effort, the chairman said that THTMA will step up aiding hand tool makers to continuously upgrade R&D capability; improve production efficiency through advanced concepts, such as lean production; and introduce state-of-the-art automation technology to achieve “smart production.”

Wu also praised the Bureau of Foreign Trade under MOEA for sponsoring THTMA to organize exhibitor groups to go to eight trade fairs worldwide and hold several forums and seminars in Taiwan this year, as well as the Industrial Development Bureau for commissioning the Metal Industries Research & Development Centre (MIRDC) to carry out an industrial development project specifically for the hand tool industry. Such programs and support, the chairman noted, will certainly drive the industry to develop sustainably in the global market in the near future.

THTMA AGM 2015, held mid-September in Taichung, central Taiwan,  attracts a considerable number of industry insiders, officials and industry personalities.THTMA AGM 2015, held mid-September in Taichung, central Taiwan, attracts a considerable number of industry insiders, officials and industry personalities.

THTMA's Own Efforts
Without neglecting its duty to the membership, THTMA has also invested ample resources on its own to build the industry's image and capabilities over the past few years.

For example, Wu reported that THTMA worked with China Steel Corp., Taiwan's largest steelmaker by size and the major supplier of carbon steels and alloys to local hand tool makers, along with Taiwan Steel & Iron Industries Association and the Chinese Institute of Mining & Metallurgical Engineers, to hold a seminar titled “Techniques and Practices of Thermal Treatment for Hand Tool Materials” in late 2014, an event that was almost fully booked and helped hand tool makers to enrich knowledge and techniques required for further enhancing durability and quality through thermal treatment. 

To build the industry's presence abroad, Wu reported that THTMA has also set up a partnership with Japan's TsubameSanjo Regional Industries Promotion Center, an organization that promotes industries within Tsubame and Sanjo in the Niigata Prefecture that is known as the hub of Japan's metalworking and metal product industries, by mutually sending representatives to enhance exchanges between hand tool manufacturers in Taiwan and Japan, in an effort to create symbiosis in the long run.

Besides, THTMA has joined hands with local universities and R&D institutes, including National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, and MIRDC, to either set up an R&D center for the development of next-generation hand tools, or research, develop new production and testing technologies to add value to Taiwan-made hand tools. So far, Wu confirmed, the industry-academia synergy created has gradually resulted in positive results to pump growth momentum into the industry.

Wu concluded to say that despite Taiwan having lagged behind China and Korea in signing free trade agreements and hence suffered export declines, Taiwanese hand tool makers can still fare well in the global market mostly thanks to operators' diligent pursuit of excellence in quality and service. He stressed, “While the global market has become increasingly volatile amid economic instability, Taiwan's hand tool industry still has strong growth potential. The THTMA is always aspired to do its best to turn Taiwan-made hand tools into boutique products known and recognized among global buyers.”

THS 2015, scheduled October 12-14 in Taichung, will again  feature plentiful hand-tool exhibitors mostly led by THTMA (photo courtesy of Kaigo Co., Ltd.).THS 2015, scheduled October 12-14 in Taichung, will again feature plentiful hand-tool exhibitors mostly led by THTMA (photo courtesy of Kaigo Co., Ltd.).

Export Value of Taiwan's Hand Tools in Jan. Thru Apr., 2015, by Destinations and Categories Unit: NT$10,000
Destination
Socket
Wrench
Plier
Vice
Screwdriver
Hammer,Axe, Pickaxe, Shovel
Saw
Scissor
Tool Sets
Garden Tools
The U.S.
99,175
57,392
47,887
9,253
15,337
17,046
8,764
11,152
71,536
43,110
Canada
4,523
43,796
1,757
1,080
877
919
250
1,049
2,188
2,864
Japan
8,451
14,420
3,786
3,446
1,968
1,842
1,019
3,472
2,188
2,864
Hong Kong
309
1,688
1,589
60
419
10
560
383
749
195
China
32,402
9,106
6,775
666
2,306
1,257
2,680
1,551
3,329
4,370
Germany
17,666
18,235
7,891
2,984
1,338
2,623
2,470
887
23,216
21,374
France
20,641
17,375
5,874
1,477
1,301
1,301
949
1,936
2,332
2,348
The U.K.
8,357
9,386
4,649
1,359
2,268
837
745
1,082
12,340
7,359
Italy
2,547
7,009
3,590
756
1,952
301
564
2,222
3,178
6,001
Australia
6,784
16,557
4,564
896
2,871
1,318
1,698
818
5,065
8,853
Africa
3,848
3,127
1,674
531
835
132
235
430
3,249
2,026
Others
102,811
73,622
33,788
12,655
15,836
9,639
12,512
9,532
66,834
42,247
Total
307,513
241,710
123,824
35,166
47,308
37,227
32,445
34,513
196,661
146,163
YoY Growth
1.4%
2.0%
7.6%
-0.9%
-9.8%
11.2%
1.7%
-7.7%
3.5%
-4.6%
Source: Taiwan Hand Tool Manufacturers' Association


Industry In-Focus

Foxconn Engages European Auto Parts Talks for Tier 1 and EV Market Entry </h2>

Foxconn Engages European Auto Parts Talks for Tier 1 and EV Market Entry

Oct 20, 2020

Foxconn is looking to explore cooperation with European tier 1 auto parts suppliers in developing 3D auto-use curved glass covers. The electronics manufacturer is also reportedly engaging in talks with European auto firms to make curved, one-piece system consoles and dashboards. In a bid to diversify its product line, Foxconn's plans to enter the lucrative auto parts industry began with provid...


China's Strong Auto Market to Buoy Taiwan's Related Industries</h2>

China's Strong Auto Market to Buoy Taiwan's Related Industries

Oct 19, 2020

Taiwan's auto parts market has seen positive impacts as the Chinese automotive market continues to grow in its sixth consecutive month. Hotai Motors and Yulon Nissan Motor are the two significant firms enjoying the leverage. The island's related industries are benefiting from the strong performance of China's automotive market. Industry members say as long as competitive Taiwanese firms mainta...


Foundry Supply in a Pickle Amid Surging Demand Due to Pandemic and Restrictions</h2>

Foundry Supply in a Pickle Amid Surging Demand Due to Pandemic and Restrictions

Oct 19, 2020

Industry experts expect to see challenging times ahead for production in the foundry sector, forecasting that the current situation will not let up in the short-term and warns of unbalanced supply-demand next year. During the pre-pandemic era, IC design firms say clients usually made urgent orders to avoid having to manage inventory. Yet, considering limited foundry production volume, clients ...



Industry Reports

Foxconn Engages European Auto Parts Talks for Tier 1 and EV Market Entry </h2>

Foxconn Engages European Auto Parts Talks for Tier 1 and EV Market Entry

Oct 20, 2020

Foxconn is looking to explore cooperation with European tier 1 auto parts suppliers in developing 3D auto-use curved glass covers. The electronics manufacturer is also reportedly engaging in talks with European auto firms to make curved, one-piece system consoles and dashboards. In a bid to diversify its product line, Foxconn's plans to enter the lucrative auto parts industry began with provid...


(File cabinets, photo courtesy of Chyn Fuh Enterprise Co., Ltd.)

Taiwan's Furniture Industry Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Oct 16, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected global and Taiwan's political and economic landscapes. Unlike some industries, the furniture sector did not escape unscathed, facing a squeeze from management and costs. While Taiwan continues to implement a stable, successful outbreak response, the industry has also misjudged the economic downturn duration. The furniture industry has yet to fully recover...


2020 Energy Vision Summit for Green Energy to Kick off in Nov.</h2>

2020 Energy Vision Summit for Green Energy to Kick off in Nov.

Oct 14, 2020

The Taiwanese government has pledged to lead the effort in further developing the sustainable green economy, which is among the sectors highlighted in the Tsai administration's "5+2 Innovative Industries Initiative." Economic Daily News is hosting the "2020 Energy Vision Summit - Green Energy 2.0" on November 11. As one of the government's core policies, improving the island's energy self-suff...



Supplier News

(Electric Vehicle-Photo courtesy of CENS)

Microtest: Precise, Reliable, and Always Improving

Oct 16, 2020

Eyes Stake in 5G Industry with Impedance Analyzer 6632 With greater demand for electronics and manufacturers' need for more precise and diverse applications than before, testing equipment that ensures the reliability, safety, and quality of parts are in hot demand. Founded in 1993, Microtest Corp. is a professional maker and developer of high precision and automatic testing and measurement ins...


(Photo courtesy of Ho Shuan Enterprise Co., Ltd.)

Ho Shuan is Your Choice for Educational Furniture and More

Oct 16, 2020

Insisting that its customers are always a top priority, Ho Shuan Enterprise Co., Ltd.'s R&D team provides the best educational furniture and peripherals, computer tables, and desks to meet all customer requirements. Established in 1986, Ho Shuan has experienced recent sluggish local market performance, but eventually rebounded and came back better than ever. Despite difficulties, the firm neve...

HO SHUAN ENTERPRISE CO., LTD.


(S16-M01 Short Swivel-Handle Cabinet, photo courtesy of Chyn Fuh Enterprise)

Chyn Fuh: A Quality OA Metal Furniture Maker

Oct 16, 2020

Chyn Fuh Enterprise, founded in 1993, entered the market with the sole aim of offering other OA metal furniture options for customers. Since its inception, Chyn Fuh has focused on designing and producing OA metal furniture, providing various office use products, including file cabinets, storage cabinets, office desks, and different assistive metal products. Chyn Fuh partook in many government ...

CHYN FUH ENTERPRISE CO., LTD.



Insiders' Views

Caption: Pictured from front row, third right, Changhua County Government Economic Affairs Department Director Liu Yu-ping, County Magistrate Wang Huei-mei, Secretary Chen Bo-tsun pose in front of the exhibition booth. (Photo provided by CHCIA)

Changhua County Government Shores up Biz-Matching to Global Buyers

Nov 18, 2019

■Yang Feng-Chun In a bid to assist manufacturers in Changhua County to expand their market reach overseas against severe competition in the globalized market, Changhua County Government has been an active player in pushing for a makeover and innovation of its local small and medium-sized enterprises. This is done in hopes of establishing stronger connection with international markets. An ex...


Paul Master offers high-quality chassis and engines parts for passenger cars, trucks, and industrial trucks. (Photo courtesy of Paul Master)

Paul Master Builds Reputation with Auto Chassis and Engine Parts

Nov 18, 2019

Founded in 1980, Paul Master Auto Parts Co. is headquartered in Taiwan, a professional manufacturer of chassis and engines parts for passenger cars, trucks, and industrial trucks including forklifts. General Manager Terry Liang said the company has its own professional design department, which provides customized products and specifications for global buyers, including automobile steering and...

PAUL MASTER AUTO PARTS CO.


Nan Hoang Traffic Instrument Co., Ltd.</h2><p class='subtitle'>Taiwan First brakes Technology Co., Ltd. </p>

Nan Hoang Traffic Instrument Co., Ltd.

Taiwan First brakes Technology Co., Ltd.

Sep 04, 2019

Nan Hoang Traffic Instrument Co., Ltd is one of the major manufacturers of automobile friction materials in Taiwan and globally. Chairman Austin Cheng has implemented the double-arrow strategy this year - own brand of “YangPo” is adopted to focus on global channels while the “NHC brand focuses on improving market shares in global markets, such as Europe, America, Asia, Australia, and the Middle E...



Exhibition Highlights

Gearing up for Post-COVID Recovery, THS Coming Soon in October</h2>

Gearing up for Post-COVID Recovery, THS Coming Soon in October

Oct 07, 2020

As the only hardware and hand tools trade show taking place this year globally, the three-day Taiwan Hardware Show (THS) will soon kick off on 13th October at the Taichung International Exhibition Center. Positive industry outlook for the post COVID-19 era has led to over 370 companies signing up as exhibitors, in a bid to gear up for a long-awaited economic recovery and plan the next strategic m...


Stable Development and Popular Fastener Show in China</h2>

Stable Development and Popular Fastener Show in China

Sep 11, 2020

Driven by market prospects, domestic and international exhibitors actively prepare International Fastener Show China in Shanghai on November 3-5, 2020. Suffering from global epidemic and quarantine nearly half year, exhibitions are hot and popular in mainland China. Thousands of visitors join and visit the exhibitions with inquiries, and are eager to know new technology. Domestic and inter...


2020 Medical Taiwan to Host In-Person and Virtual Events</h2>

2020 Medical Taiwan to Host In-Person and Virtual Events

Sep 10, 2020

2020 Medical Taiwan is slated to kick off on Oct. 15 to Oct 17 at Nangang Exhibition Hall 2. Aside from events at the show, show organizer Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) is also hosting the “Medical Taiwan Virtual” online edition at the same time due to travel restrictions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual edition will present 200 exhibitors and over 700 medic...