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flag Taiwan Taiwan: Economic and Political Outline

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline


Economic Indicators

After almost five decades of sound economic management, Taiwan has managed to go from an underdeveloped agricultural island, to an economic power that is a leading producer of high-technology goods. Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy in which the authorities' control of investment and foreign trade is gradually diminishing. Highly vulnerable to the fluctuations of the global economy (its exports account for two thirds of the Taiwanese GDP), the island was severely affected by its parters' economic slowdown, especially regarding the eurozone and the United States. Growth remained at 2.1% in 2013 and was essentially driven by the rise in domestic demand. It is expected to rise to 3.2% in 2014 thanks to the resumption of exports following the recovery of global demand

The Taiwanese economy has been negatively affected by the unfavorable international context, especially regarding the United States and Europe. In September 2013, the island nonetheless reached its record in the exports of goods (7.8 billion USD) and therefore confirmed its position as a global leader in electronic products. President Ma Ying-jeou, who was reelected in 2012, announced the priorities of his second term: to reduce social inequalities, create jobs, support innovation and guarantee a greater participation of Taiwan in the region's economic integration. For the sixth consecutive year, the country has adopted an expansionist budget policy for 2014. Its main focus is social security (more than one fifth of expenditure), followed by education, science and culture (approximately one fifth of expenditure) and by the defense sector. Funding of public works is also a priority, while a balanced budged remains secondary. Because of declining revenues, the budget deficit should be financed by new lending and the emission of government bonds. In the long-term, Taiwan will have to deal with problems of population aging, low birth rate, its diplomatic isolation and decline in its economic competitiveness.

The unemployment rate, which reached almost 6% in 2009, has now dropped to about 4% and should continue to decline.

Main Indicators 20112012201320142015 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 465.21475.33489.09e505.45e545.64
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 20,03020,3862021,572e23,229
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -4.4-4.3-2.9-2.1-1.8
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)
Inflation Rate (%)
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force)
Current Account (billions USD) 41.6950.5957.35e60.0961.61
Current Account (in % of GDP) 9.010.611.7e11.9e11.3

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database , Last Available Data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

The agricultural sector contributes very marginally to the GNP and employs around 5% of the workforce. Taiwan's main crops are rice, sugarcane, fruits and vegetables. Taiwan has limited natural resources and croplands are cultivated intensely.

The secondary sector accounts for a significant part of the GNP. Even though traditional industries such as iron and steel, chemical products and mechanics still account for almost half the industrial production, new industries are more dynamic. Taiwan is one of the world's biggest suppliers of semi-conductors, computers and mobile telephones. It is also the world's biggest supplier of computer monitors.

Services contribute nearly 70% to the GDP and employ slightly under 60% of the workforce.
The country, which has to deal with the continuous relocation of labor-intensive industries to countries where labor is cheaper (especially China), will have to rely on new conversions, in order to move from a high-technology based economy to a services oriented economy.

Monetary Indicators
New Taiwan Dollar (TWD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.


Learn more about Market Analyses about Taiwan on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Mostly Free
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2014 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Business environment ranking


The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

World Rank:

Source: The Economist - Business Environment Rankings 2014-2018


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

Foreign trade has been Taiwan's growth driver, representing more than 140% of the GDP (average of 2010-2012). Taiwan's economy remains very export-oriented, so much so that it depends on an open world trade regime and remains vulnerable to downturns of the world economy. The electronics sector is Taiwan's most important industrial export sector and also the one that receives most of the American investment. Taiwan, as an independent economy, became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu ("Chinese Taipei") in January 2002. Taiwan's main export partners are China, Hong Kong, United States and Japan. A free-trade agreement has been signed with New Zealand and Singapore and the country has also been building closer ties with China and a new liberalisation agreements between the two countries should be ratified by the Parliament. For more information, refer to the COMTRADE website.

The island shows a surplus trade balance. In 2013, Taiwan registered a record trade surplus of $35.54b, due to a rise in exports and a decline in imports.

Foreign Trade Indicators 2010201120122013
Imports of Goods (million USD) 251,236281,438270,473269,897
Exports of Goods (million USD) 274,601308,257301,181305,441
Imports of Services (million USD) 37,11741,32142,05141,710
Exports of Services (million USD) 40,10445,64348,81051,360

Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank , Last Available Data

See More Products
More imports (Intracen Data)
More exports (Intracen Data)

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministry of Economic Affairs
Council of Agriculture
Department of Investment Services
Statistical Office
National statistics
Central Bank
National Central Bank
Stock Exchange
Taiwan stock exchange
Search Engines
Yahoo Taiwan
Economic Portals

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Political Outline

Executive Power
First country of Asia to have elected its president by the universal direct suffrage. President and Vice President are elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term). Election last held 22 March 2008 (next to be held in March 2012). Premier is appointed by the President; Vice premiers are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Premier.
Legislative Power
Unicameral Legislative Yuan: 113 seats, 73 district members elected by popular vote, 34 at-large members elected on basis of proportion of island wide votes received by participating political parties, 6 elected by popular vote among aboriginal populations; to serve four-year terms
Parties must receive 5% of vote to qualify for at-large seats.
Last elections held in January 2008 (next to be held in January 2012).
Main Political Parties
Democratic Progressive Party or DPP (TSAI Ing-wen); Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party: WU Po-hsiung); Non-Partisan Solidarity Union or NPSU (CHANG Po-ya); People First Party or PFP (James SOONG)
Current Political Leaders
President: MA Ying-jeou (since 20 May 2008) - Kuomintang
Head of government: Mao Chi-kuo (since 4 December 2014) - Kuomintang
Next Election Dates
Presidential: 2016
Legislative Yuan (parliamentary):  January 2016

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures the violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire sent to partner organizations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and activists of human rights, including the main criteria - 44 in total - to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
3 places down compared to 2013

Source: Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2014, Reporters Without Borders


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Political Freedom:

Map of freedom 2014
Source: Freedom House


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Last Updates: December 2014