Taiwan Business in Brief – March 2021

By Austin Babb and Jason Wu

COVID Success Lures Foreigners

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan continues to be an attractive location for foreign talent. Ministry of Labor statistics show an 18% increase in foreign white-collar workers in Taiwan since last year. In addition, there was an astounding 300% rise in 2020 in the number of holders of the Employment Gold Card, a special visa for high-level and senior talent introduced by the NDC in 2018 to help combat Taiwan’s brain drain.

Foreigners who have recently come to Taiwan cite its “normality” and safety as two major factors contributing to its attractiveness during the pandemic. While many countries have enforced strict pandemic prevention policies, daily life in Taiwan has for the most part been unaffected. People can gather in crowds, dine at restaurants, and enjoy other benefits that are not present in other countries due to COVID-19.

Carmakers Seek Taiwan Chips

 Financial information provider IHS Markit estimates that nearly one million fewer light motor vehicles will be produced in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2021 due to semiconductor shortages. The combined effects of COVID-19, dependence on foreign manufacturers, and the impact of severe weather on semiconductor plants in Texas have strained supply lines for the American automobile industry.

Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden’s top economic advisor, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, wrote to Taiwan’s Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua asking for help in easing the shortfall in chips for U.S. automobiles. The Biden administration has identified the semiconductor industry as a priority area in its goal of reducing the U.S.’ reliance on China.

Officials in the U.S. State and Commerce Departments have previously approached the Taiwanese government to discuss the possibility of expanding semiconductor production. Such talks could prove crucial in assisting numerous American auto industry workers, who are facing reduced hours and wages due to plant shutdowns amid the chip shortage.