Taiwan LCD industry surges despite global tech slowdown

Billy Chamberlin, The China Post

Seemingly unaffected by the global downturn afflicting most of the island’s technology sector, Taiwan’s liquid crystal display (LCD) industry is expected to hit a record US$4.9 billion in production value this year according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA). Noting a 70 percent increase in production over last year, analysts say Taiwan’s growing prominence in the industry has led the island to snare 25.3 percent of the global market, propelled by the nation’s strong IT (information technology) industry. “Supporting Taiwan’s rise in TFT-LCDs are strong demand from Taiwan’s OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and a growing local infrastructure of materials suppliers,” said Ross Young, president of DisplaySearch, a U.S.-based market research firm. LCDs, the flat panel displays used in a variety of products ranging from notebook PCs to mobile phones, have become a primary component in many of the island’s IT products. Taiwan’s maturing LCD industry has allowed Taiwan-based companies to become more self-reliant and less susceptible to currency fluctuations that can inflate prices of imported LCDs.

“Taiwan has moved from assembling LCD monitors to creating LCD panels and key components which were previously imported from Japan,” said Hwang Tai-yang, director of the Office of Committee for Information Industry Development (OCCIID) with the MOEA. “This is an important step up the value chain as Taiwan companies now have control of key components to match our expertise in finished products.” He went on to say that Taiwan’s success in the industry can be directly attributed to companies’ emphasis on “technology cooperation, technology transfer, and R&D.” These factors are expected to continue to fuel growth over the coming years. “Taiwan’s share of the global TFT-LCD market is expected to rise to over 30 percent by 2002,” said Young, adding that, “Taiwan’s TFT-LCD suppliers are well positioned to benefit from the 39 percent growth projected for the global LCD market in 2002, boosting the market size to US$22 billion.” “Two years ago, Taiwan was a minnow in the TFT-LCD industry with only six percent of the global market, but today it is a world contender,” said Hwang.