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Taiwan: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Taiwan

Taiwan is certainly underpinned by Chinese traditions, but it has also been shaped by Western values and customs. A heavy Japanese influence is also evident. International business visitors, therefore, will generally find themselves easily accommodated – this is a functional society used to dealing with Westerners. A lightweight suit is suitable business wear, and shaking hands is the usual form of greeting. Business cards (ideally printed in both Chinese and English) should be both given and received with two hands. Take a moment to study any business card you receive – it’s a sign of respect.

When addressing people, the family or surname comes first. Punctuality is important and appointments should, where possible, be made in advance. The Taiwanese have an instilled work ethic and are often highly educated, although even if business is being conducted in English, a translator may be necessary. As in all Asian countries, not “losing face” is important. It might not be wise to talk about Chinese politics or international recognition of Taiwan, unless someone else brings the subject up.

Office Hours

Office hours are Monday to Friday 0900-1700 and Saturday 0900-1200.

Economy

Taiwan was one of the first 'tiger economies' of the Pacific basin, enjoying phenomenal growth from the 1950s onwards.

Its success was built on a policy of rapid industrialisation coupled with low overheads and labour costs – as opposed to relying on raw materials, of which there is a dearth. Massive foreign currency reserves accumulated over the years have since helped Taiwan to minimise the effects of turbulence in the world economy.

After a brief recession in 2000/01, the economy is growing at a healthy rate. The performance of the Taiwanese economy is significantly affected by external political and economic conditions, especially in China (PR). In January 2002, Taiwan was admitted to the World Trade Organisation. It is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the Asian Development Bank. The International Monetary Fund has listed it as the world’s 15th largest economy and Asia's 5th largest.

GDP

US$474 billion (2012).

Main exports

Electronics, metals, plastic and rubber products, machinery and chemicals.

Main imports

Machinery, electronics, crude petroleum, minerals and precision instruments.

Main trading partners

China (PR), the European Union, the USA, Hong Kong (SAR) and Japan.

Keeping in Touch in Taiwan

Telephone

There is an extensive telephone system across the island, including a large number of public card phones which can be used for overseas calls. Prepaid cards can be bought from 7-Eleven and other convenience stores.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone companies, meaning the vast majority of phones will be compatible with local networks once you arrive.

Internet

Internet cafés aren’t quite as simple to find as you might expect from such a tech-savvy destination. They’re certainly out there, however, found everywhere from gaming centres to local libraries, and connections are usually good. Most hotels have Wi-Fi internet access, which is often free but may come with a surcharge.

The Taiwan tourist office offers free internet access for tourists from abroad. Tourists can register here: http://itaiwan.taiwan.net.tw

Media

There are good levels of freedom of press in Taiwan. Daily Chinese-language papers include the United Daily News, the Central Daily News (online only), China Times and Liberty Times. English-language dailies include The China Post, Taipei Times and Taiwan News. On TV, Public Television Service (PTS) is the only non-profit public broadcaster. Commercial networks include China Television Company (CTV), Chinese Television System (CTS), Taiwan Television Enterprise (TTV) and Formosa Television (FTV).

Post

The domestic postal service is quick and dependable. Airmail to Western Europe takes up to 10 days.

Post Office hours

Varied – usually 8.00-17.00 Monday to Friday and 8.30-12.00 on Saturdays.

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