Containers are seen stacked up at the Port of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan. Reuters
The current trade volume between India and Taiwan is to the tune of $7.5 billion. Over the years, India has shown keenness to expand economic and socio-cultural ties with Taiwan.
Since 2014-19 there have been lot of changes, and the bilateral trade has gone up.
The bilateral trade, which stood at $1 billion in 2000, was $7.5 billion in 2019 - a six times increase in volume, said Taiwanese Ambassador Tien, Chung-Kwang.
Ties between India and Taiwan are on an upward trajectory, especially under the “pro-business and proactive” leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said Taiwanese Ambassador Tien, Chung-Kwang.
Among the countries Taiwan shares special relations with, “India will be the most important country to work with,” Tien said in an interaction with journalists.
“The trade is very healthy, and balanced, which is very important. Imbalanced trade is not very healthy for trade relations,” he said, in an apparent reference to India’s hugely imbalanced trade with China. Trade has been one of the niggling issues with China, as it is heavily titled in Beijing’s favour.
Taiwan invested $360 million in 2018 in India through its companies, an increase of 12 times over what it invested in 2016, Tien said, during the interaction with the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents.
“Our relations have fast enhanced. India provides tremendous opportunities that are manufacturing oriented,” he added.
He said there are 2,398 Indian students studying in Taiwan, which is a big number for his country, which has a population of 2.3 crore.
Taiwan also prefers relations with India as there is “minimal political interference” in areas of trade, cultural ties, education etc., unlike in some countries, he added.
Taiwan is trying to set up Taiwan education centres in India, which are present in some IITs and the Jindal school. “Language will open the door,” he said.
Tien said India and Taiwan have “no issues” or discord in the area of religion, culture, civilisation, “our trade is balanced, we have no border issues, no tariff issues” - in an obvious reference to India’s continuing boundary and trade disputes with China.
China claims sovereignty over Taiwan as a part of its One China principle. The Taiwanese maintain the Taipei Economic Cultural Centre in New Delhi. China opposes any official contact between Taiwan and other countries and has warned India in the past to strictly follow the “one-China” policy.
Taiwan is eyeing a 20 per cent y-o-y growth in trade with India in the backdrop of the New Southbound Policy (NSP) institutionalised in 2016, which sharply focused on Taiwan’s engagement with 18 South and SouthEast Asian countries. Besides this, the ensuing China-US trade war and escalating costs in China have made the Indian economy more lucrative to Taiwan as the world’s fastest growing emerging economy.
Incidentally, India has been in step with the ‘One China Policy’, which essentially implies that only one country will represent China. However, over the years, India has shown keenness to expand economic and socio-cultural ties with Taiwan. Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) set up four new offices in India last year, in the four metros of Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.
In fact, in the last two years, interest from the island nation in India has grown substantially. A spate of Taiwanese investments came by in India in the last one year alone, with investment figures spiralling to $360 million by Taiwanese companies. Notable among these have been Taiwanese contract manufacturer companies such as Wistron and Foxconn which planned to invest Rs 7,500 crore in India over a five year period.
Taiwan Expo is considered to be a major facilitator in developing Taiwan’s bilateral trade relations with its neighboring countries. Taiwan is looking at increasing its footprint in India in a major way through key investments in areas such as smart solutions, hardware, software, and electronics that are driving bilateral trade between the two countries. Bullish about the business climate in India, Taiwanese companies are feeling confident to enter the Indian market.
Taiwan Expo is an important platform to forge a network between Taiwanese and Indian companies for exploring business opportunities together. It is organised by the Bureau of Foreign Trade, MOEA and Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), in association with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and support from India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO).