TAITRA looking for next big thing in display panel sector

By Ted Chen, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA, 對外貿易發展協會) in a press event yesterday outlined its primary objectives for the year, and urged Taiwan’s display panel industry toward innovating new products and technologies to face off against tremendous competition from across the strait. TAITRA stated that the emphasis this year will be placed on further outreach toward markets abroad, expansion of its network of offices in providing services to businesses and the promotion of research among Taiwan’s industries.

Most notably, TAITRA Chairman Wang Chih-kang (王志剛) yesterday urged Taiwan’s display panel makers to ramp up efforts toward innovating new products and developing new technologies amid heightened competition from mainland China. China last year imported about US$4.5 billion worth of display panels from Taiwan, said Wang. With production capacity growing rapidly across the strait, and increased efforts from South Korean competitors in the China market, the industry may not be able to expect procurement to continue at volumes seen in previous years, Wang said. “While Taiwan still retains a lead in display technologies, innovation remains the only path for the sector’s survival,” said Wang, while also urging structural reform across industries and further deregulation of Taiwan’s market.

The inking of free trade agreements between South Korea, the U.S. and Europe may be worrisome for Taiwan’s enterprises, said Wang, while mentioning that an information technology trade agreement between Taiwan and the U.S. has mitigated impacts to international trade. Wang however, stated that more severe ramifications may arise if China and South Korea manage to establish free trade accords, as Taiwan and South Korea share a 70-percent similarity in exports. It is of the utmost importance for the government to swiftly produce results on the foreign trade front, said Wang.

In retrospect, 230 events were staged at various markets abroad last year, garnering the participation of 83,108 buyers, up by 6,000 buyers from figures recorded in 2012. TAITRA is planning to greatly increase the number of industry forums and seminars, particularly in Taiwan’s central and southern regions, and plans to organize 470 such events, a marked increase from last year’s 113 events.

In addition, the council will be publishing findings from its list of 80 nations whose imports reach more than US$100 million worth of goods from Taiwan to serve as a reference guide for Taiwanese enterprises in developing markets abroad. According to TAITRA, its international market reports will be based on studying nations’ potential in imports and exports under a five-star rating system. Wang stated that the study will draw from expertise from industries and academia, and will become an authoritative resource for Taiwanese enterprises in reducing risks associated with expanding into overseas markets.