The concept of the ‘Taiwan miracle’ is not a new one. Today, Taiwan plays a critical role in the global technology supply chain, is an important market for global trade – and is a location that is increasingly ripe for foreign investment.
But this dramatic repositioning has obscured the nation’s success story: through rapid industrialisation and growth over the last few decades, the island state has transformed itself into a hi-tech powerhouse and successfully positioned itself as a key shipping and logistics hub for the Asia-Pacific region.
This success is no more evident than in Taiwan’s recent ranking in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018, where the nation holds 15th position. A business-friendly regulatory regime, coupled with both a capacity and a willingness to innovate, are supplemented by world-class infrastructure that makes trade an attractive prospect for shipping and logistics companies.
Taiwan’s economy is heavily dependent on international trade and exports, and its strategic geographic location means the country is well placed to serve as a gateway hub to the wider Asia-Pacific region.
Changing trade flows
Developments that have increased connectivity between the Asian, European and African continents have boosted trade and help spur further development within the country. Changing trade flows will undoubtedly present opportunities for Taiwan – particularly in supporting the export of raw materials needed for infrastructure development in emerging economies in Asia.
To further bolster demand and the country’s competitiveness, the Taiwanese government introduced the ‘Forward-looking Infrastructure Bill’, an ambitious infrastructure plan which sets out to steer Taiwan’s economy to the next phase of growth. The plan includes investments in green energy, rail construction and digital infrastructure.
Taiwan has also fostered a reputation for innovation, and a forward-thinking attitude that stretches from government down into businesses. For example, despite not yet being part of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Taiwanese government has been spearheading efforts to address climate change and clamp down emissions from various port-related activities.
One such example is the introduction of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act which seeks to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. Furthermore, the Taiwan International Ports Corporation (TIPC) has been working tirelessly to secure EcoPorts certifications for its key ports. Overseen by the European Seaports Organisation, the certifications serve as a recognition for the ports’ commitment to sustainable operations. The country is also working to explore power generation through renewable energy sources such as offshore wind turbines.
Clearly, all of these developments provide opportunities for shipping and logistics companies. Supporting the country’s burgeoning renewables sector – through materials transport and transshipment, crewing and husbandry – is just one example of the myriad of new developments occurring in the country.
Taiwan presents shipping and logistics providers with an opportunity to leverage the nation’s continuous growth and further develop their presence in the region. One such company to do so is GAC.
GAC Taiwan was established in 1999, with its main office in the capital Taipei. In 2014 the company expanded to the south for business development opportunities in southern Taiwan. Then, in January 2017, this office in Kaohsiung was bolstered with a full complement of shipping services to cater to growing ship agency needs at Taiwanese ports. GAC has observed an increase in port calls for breakbulk, tanker and cruise vessels compared to 5 years ago. This in no small part, reflects the country’s growing demand for raw materials to drive industry, and oil and gas to power those developments.
Taiwan is no different from the rest of the world, however – stiff competition, low profit margins and rising operating costs are some of the challenges that the shipping and logistics sector is facing as they navigate through the current economic environment. With cost-saving as a key priority for manufacturers, trading companies and carrier companies, customers are opting to transport their cargo via ocean freight instead of air freight to reduce costs. But this shift in trade patterns has also opened the door for shipping and logistics companies – because with increased volume comes increased demand for services.
Customers are increasingly demanding cost-effective and timely solutions. Leveraging this, GAC Taiwan serves as a ‘one-stop shop’, providing holistic logistics and shipping services to customers, ensuring cost-savings while delivering a high standard of quality and service, from production through to the delivery destination.
Service quality, cost efficiency and reliability are viewed as key differentiators in today’s competitive environment and are integral to GAC Taiwan, who undertake stringent checks on suppliers, alongside nationally mandated HSSE requirements, to ensure compliance and high standard of service delivery.
Taiwan already plays an indispensable role in global trade – but it is clear that fortunes for the island nation are on the rise. The continuous growth and development in the region is bringing about new opportunities for shipping and logistics providers to leverage, and, if discerningly done, cement their presence in the region for years to come.