Taiwan Business Brief – March 2024


Taiwan’s 2024 GDP Forecast up

Exports in January reached US$37.2 billion, a year-on-year (YoY) increase of 18.1%. January was the third consecutive month with a YoY export expansion. Import value came to US$34.7 billion, an increase of 19% YoY.

In January, Taiwan’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.3%, the lowest in 24 years, according to the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS). The decrease was attributed to fewer job losses from business downsizing or closures. Seasonally adjusted, the rate was steady at 3.39%, with a slight increase expected after the Lunar New Year.

Based on advance estimates, DGBAS said real GDP increased by 5.12% YoY in Q4 2023. Investment in transportation equipment grew significantly, while capital expenditure on machinery equipment decreased. For the whole of 2023, DGBAS revised Taiwan’s projected economic growth rate to 1.31%, down from its earlier estimate of 1.42%. However, the lower baseline prompted DGBAS to revise its projected GDP growth for 2024 to 3.43%, up from the 3.35% forecast it issued in November.

Cumulative growth in the consumer price index (CPI) for 2023 reached 2.5%, exceeding the 2% target set by the Central Bank. It was the second-highest level in 15 years, DGBAS reported. Core CPI growth, which excludes volatile items like produce and energy, reached 1.64% YoY last year. In more encouraging news, January’s CPI growth fell to 1.79% YoY, the lowest growth level in seven months.

Economists predict that the Central Bank will decide to maintain its key interest rates during its quarterly policymaking meeting on March 21, primarily due to anticipated hikes in electricity costs that could heighten inflationary pressures.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) is slated to hold a power rate evaluation meeting in March to review electricity rates. It is widely expected to increase prices for both households and businesses to offset losses by state-owned Taiwan Power Co.

Gogoro Expands to Latin America

Taiwanese electric two-wheel vehicle manufacturer Gogoro in late January announced formation of a partnership with Copec, a leading Latin American energy company. The partnership is set to introduce Gogoro’s Smartscooters and battery-swapping infrastructure in Chile and Colombia, aiming to revolutionize urban mobility and enhance sustainability in these countries. The launch is scheduled for the first half of 2024. 

Hon Hai Monthly Sales up 13%

Contract manufacturing giant Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (also known as Foxconn) reported unaudited consolidated revenue of NT$522.1 billion for January 2024 – an increase of 13.48% from the preceding month. The surge was primarily fueled by significant growth in smart consumer electronics and computing products, the company said. Despite a 20.9% decline year-on-year, January’s revenue was the second highest for the same period in the company’s history.

Starlux to Launch Taichung Flights                  

Starlux Airlines will soon be offering flights from Taichung to Macau, Vietnam, and Japan, marking a significant expansion of its network to central Taiwan. The route to Macau International Airport is scheduled to commence on March 31, with the first flight to Da Nang International Airport in Vietnam scheduled for April 2.

Starlux has previously operated exclusively from Taoyuan International Airport but sees Taichung as a significant transportation hub that will boost convenience to travelers in central and southern Taiwan, according to Starlux Chief Strategy Officer Simon Liu.

Taiwan, Czechia Launch Chips Collaboration

Business groups from Taiwan and Czechia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on semiconductor collaboration on February 1. Taiwan’s TOPOC Scientific Co. and Eastbound Alliance-Landing America (TeaLa) will work with the Czech National Semiconductor Cluster (CNSC), bringing together experts, companies, and institutions in the Czech semiconductor value chain. The Czech border is located conveniently close to Dresden, Germany, where TSMC plans to build a wafer plant.

“With regional supply chain synergy and the Czech Republic’s industrial and economic strength, coupled with its geographical advantage, the prospects for the semiconductor industry in the Czech Republic are promising,” TeaLa and TOPOC Chairman J.W. Kuo said in a statement.

Fubon to Open India Branch

Taipei Fubon Bank has secured approval from the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) to open a branch in Mumbai, India. The Mumbai branch would make Fubon the fourth Taiwanese bank to operate in India, following CTBC Bank, Bank of Taiwan, and Mega International Commercial Bank. The planned branch is expected to help Indian enterprises and Taiwanese investors in India access financing opportunities, the FSC said.

India is one of the countries covered in Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy, which is aimed at enhancing economic and trade relations in South and Southeast Asia. Fubon Bank’s expansion into India is seen as a strategic move, complementing its existing branches in Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, and China, along with representative offices in Indonesia and Australia.