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Taiwan Looks At India As An Important Trade Partner

A slew of corporates headquartered in the East Asian country are looking to set shop in India

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After Japan, Korea and even China, Taiwan is increasingly looking at India as an important trade partner. A slew of corporates headquartered in the East Asian country are looking to set shop in India in a bid to expand their operations outside their home country. 

These include prominent names such as Spring Pool Glass Industrial CO that turns waste glass into works of art and green building materials, flour mixer and noodle maker Kuo Chang Machinery that already has done business with ITC in the past, auto component manufacturer Hu Lane Associate Inc and Moxa that deals in automation. Among healthcare firms, Treatyou Medical Technology Corporation and Ti-Ho Healthcare Technology have evinced interest in establishing their presence in the underpenetrated healthcare sector in India. Leading haircare brand O’right that deals with eco-friendly carbon neutral hair care and styling products, too, is looking at an India foray as the beauty and wellness Industry here is growing twice as fast as that of the markets in the US and Europe.

These are not the only ones. There are more corporates from Taiwan waiting to establish their presence in India at a time when other countries such as Japan and Korea are already well entrenched in India. Chinese investments too have been picking up in the country over the past few years. 

“We have not paid too much of attention to India so far but going forward, we want to establish our presence there,” said James Huang, Chairman of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) in Taipei ahead of the ‘Taiwan Expo’ that is slated to take place in New Delhi next month.

The purpose of the Expo (that is being held for the first time in India) is to showcase Taiwanese companies that are looking at India as a potential hub for investment. 

 “In terms of business activities pertaining to trade and investment, most companies in Taiwan have so far concentrated on China and South East Asian countries. But, India is emerging as an important market for us as has been indicated in our latest foreign policy framework,” said Huang. 

India-Taiwan relations have made significant progress over the past few decades with the signing of the ‘Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement’ and the ‘Custom Mutual Assistance Agreement’ in 2011. The relationship between the two countries has reached a new peak of joint collaboration and mutual economic symbiosis and economic cooperation in areas of trade, investment and industry has also become close in recent years. Sample this: In 2016, bilateral trade between India and Taiwan stood at $5 billion. In 2017 it touched $6.3 billion. This year, it is expected to rise by another 10-15 per cent, said Huang. 

However, this is still ‘small’ when compared to investments coming in from other Asian countries. Take Japan for instance. The economic relationship between Japan and India has grown at 6.1% (CAGR) during 2008/09 - 2014/15, as per data available with industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Currently, Japan is the fourth largest investor in India accounting for 7.3  per cent of the total FDI inflow in the country during April 2000 – March 2016. So far, more than 1,200 Japanese companies are operating in India. As far as China is concerned, among its top trade partners (excluding trade with China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region), trade surplus with India is second after USA. Trade and economic relations between India and Korea too have gathered momentum in the past with bilateral trade reaching a substantial figure of $16.27 billion in 2015.

So is Taiwan late in entering India and carving a strategy for itself? “The answer is both yes and now. I would say it’s a perfect time for Taiwanese companies to make an India entry,” said Huang, adding Taiwan is increasingly looking to foster a strong collaboration with India in sectors such as IT/ITeS, food processing, petrochemical supply, among others as the potential in India is significant. But will Taiwan’s growing affinity towards India irk China? “I can't dictate what Beijing wants to say or how China will see things in this part of the world.” 

(The writer was invited by Taiwan External Trade Development Council to visit Taiwan) 


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