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According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, ASEAN is Taiwan’s crucial partner in the field of trading and investment. In 2014, the total trade amount between Taiwan and ASEAN added up to US$936 million, occupying 16% of Taiwan’s export. ASEAN has since then been Taiwan’s second largest trading partner and export market.

As for investing, from 1952 to 2014, Taiwan was the third largest investor in Thailand and also fourth in both Vietnam and Malaysia.

Chen Jeng-min, board member of Hi Con, a company which has been developing in Singapore for years, states that the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has made Taiwan emphasize more on the demand within the community in addition to traditional export to Western countries. Being able to construct factories in AEC member countries and lower the costs by tariff reduction has brought unlimited business opportunities.

An experienced scholar, Hu Yi-shan, from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) says that Taiwanese businesspeople can set up their factories in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos through the AEC. With less labor costs in the local area, they’re able to export commodities to the whole world as well as take a dominant position in the development of the AEC.

The Taiwanese government has been providing less support for ASEAN countries either in political loans or other support, using the excuse of financial crisis and modifications on external policies. But due to the strong support provided by other countries, Taiwan has become increasingly less visible in ASEAN. It’s very possible that the younger generation doesn’t remember the days when Taiwanese companies struggled to startup their business in Southeast Asia in the 1980s and brought up the economy of the region.

Comparing to China, Japan and Korea, which are the countries that have adopted more active policies to ASEAN, Taiwan’s measures lay more emphasis on sporadic market expanding and interaction promoting. For example, recently in ASEAN, demands in construction, health care and logistics have increased sharply. But facing the lack of governmental support, Taiwanese companies can only fight alone to export these services to ASEAN.

Translated by Yuan-ling Liang
Edited by Olivia Yang