UK-Taiwan Trade & Investment : Annual report 2017


24 April 2018

To download a copy please click 2017 Trade & Investment Report


Taiwan, recently re-affirmed as the world’s 22nd largest economy, has continued to benefit from the global economic upswing that began in mid-2016 and in particular demand for its hi-tech products. UK Taiwan trade rose to £5.35bn in 20162 making Taiwan the UK’s 37th largest trading partner globally and the 8th largest in Asia Pacific. For Taiwan, the UK was the 3rd largest trading partner in Europe after Germany and the Netherlands.

UK exports to Taiwan reached £1,980 million in 2016. Goods exports were £1,203 million and services exports were £777 million. UK overall exports to Taiwan experienced a rise of 11% year-on-year as they reached £1.98bn with export performance in the services sector leading to 30% growth.

In 2017, the UK was the most popular destination for Taiwanese investors in Europe accounting for 21% of Taiwan’s Foreign Direct Investment in the region (£181.42 million). Going the other way, the UK’s FDI stock in Taiwan was valued at £2,981 million in 2016 making Taiwan the 9th largest destination for UK’s capital in Asia Pacific.

UK-Taiwan Trade Performance: Goods and Services in 2016

  1. Taiwan’s export oriented economy has seen its trade volumes rise as a result of favourable global macroeconomic conditions and in particular demand for its hi-tech products. Taiwanese exports were valued US$317.2bn in 2017, 1.8% of the world total, making it the 18th largest exporter globally3. More than a third of Taiwan’s exports in 2017 can be attributed to smartphone components which have benefited from strong demand for smartphones globally.
  2. Based on the Pink Book 2017 statistics published by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), UK Taiwan bilateral trade in goods and services in 2016 amounted to £5,35bn4, a modest rise of 0.9% from £5,304bn recorded in 2015.
  3. The increase in bilateral trade can be attributed to the growth of UK exports to Taiwan with rose by 11% year on year. UK exports to Taiwan in 2016 rose to £1.98bn in 2016, up from £1.78bn in 2015. Goods exports were £1203 million (£1185m in 2015) and services exports were £777 million (£599m in 2015): a ratio of approximately 60:40 in favour of goods exports.
  4. Whilst the UK enjoyed a trade surplus in services exports over Taiwan of £595 million in 2016, Taiwanese exports to the UK in 2016 totalled £3.37bn – less than £3.52bn level in 2015 – still giving Taiwan an overall trade surplus of £1.39bn.
  5. Compared to other economies, Taiwan was UK’s 37th largest trading partner and 8th largest in Asia Pacific. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Finance, the UK was Taiwan’s 16th largest trading partner globally and its 3rd largest trading partner in Europe, after Germany and the Netherlands in 2017.

UK Exports to Taiwan

  1. Overall demand for UK goods and services remained robust in 2016. The table below shows the breakdown of the top UK exports to Taiwan, valued at over £100 million.
2016 Top UK Goods and Services Exports to Taiwan (> £100 million)
Rank Sector Value
1 Other Business Services (e.g. Consultancy) £371m
2 Beverages, Spirits and Vinegar (Mostly Whisky) £313m
3 Machinery and Mechanical Appliances £220m
4 Financial Services £176m
5 Vehicles £136m
6 Optical, Measuring, Precision, Medical or Surgical Devices £107m


  1. Since 2013, there has been consistent demand for the UK’s beverages (particularly Scotch Whisky), machinery, vehicles, pharmaceutical products and medical devices in Taiwan. UK vehicle exports reached £153.6 million and have doubled since 2013. In a sign of success in the market, Jaguar & Land Rover established fully-owned subsidiaries in Taiwan in April 2018.
  2. UK services exports to Taiwan totalled £777 million in 2016, up from £599 million in the previous year. Demand for UK consultancy services jumped from £169 million in 2015 to £371 million in 2016 – the major cause of the increase in services exports. Well-known British companies providing such services in Taiwan include PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the British Standards Institution (BSI) and Environmental Resources Management (ERM).
  1. UK exports of financial services accounted for almost a quarter (23%) of overall services exports to Taiwan and reached £176 million, even more than to India (£169m) over the same period. Taiwan’s financial services sector continues to outperform the economy as a whole registering 2.28% and 4.59% growth in 2016 and 2017, compared to 1.41% and 2.86% of the economy as a whole. This provides a positive environment for this traditionally strong UK export sector to continue to thrive in Taiwan.

Investment overview

  1. According to the Investment Commission of Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan’s outbound investments in 2017 amounted to US$20.8bn (£16.2bn). This was down from US$21.8bn (£18.2bn) in 2016.
  2. The geographical breakdown saw Taiwan’s outbound investment is largely allocated to China (42%) and other Asian countries (17%). Taiwan’s investment in Europe fell to US$ 0.2bn, down from US$ 1.1bn in 2016 or 1.1% of the total.
  3. Of the total investment in Europe (£181.42 million), the UK attracted 21% (£38.86 million) . This was ahead all other European countries and followed directly by the Germany (15%) and Netherlands (6%).
  4. Regarding Taiwan’s outbound investment in stock, the UK (US$ 3.1bn) is the eleventh most popular destination among Taiwanese investors, following China (US$174.5bn), the British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean (US$ 39.1bn), the USA (US$ 15.5bn), Singapore (US$ 13.5bn), Vietnam (US$ 9.2bn), Japan (US$ 8.5bn), Hong Kong (US$ 6.1bn), Thailand (US$ 3.6bn), Malaysia (US$ 3.2bn), and Bermuda (US$ 3.1bn).
  5. According to ONS, the UK’s FDI stock in Taiwan was valued at £2,981 million in 2016 up from £2,350 million in 2015, making Taiwan the 9th largest destination for UK’s capital in Asia Pacific behind Hong Kong, China, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia.


Mr Meng-Zhou WU

Senior Economic Officer

British Office Taipei

Tel: +886 2 8758 2051

Email Address: Mengzhou.Wu@fco.gov.uk

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