About TAITRA 50
#On the Leading Edge of World Trade
Mr. James C. F. Huang
1970s marked the beginning of an era when Taiwan’s economy was booming. At that time when Taiwan’s total value of import and export trade was recorded US$3 billion and the development of foreign trade remained in the preliminary stage. The government, together with many industrialists, felt the need to establish a specialized organization to cater to the need of a growing economy. Given the context, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, or TAITRA, was formed. Mr. Sun Yun-Suan, then Minister of Economic Affairs, who was also the first chairman of TAITRA.
Over the past 50 years, Taiwan’s economy has evolved with different areas of focus. For example, at the beginning, the government’s focus was on light industries, coupled with the implementation of import substitution policy; Later on, the focus shifted towards export-oriented economy; and the rise of the machinery industry and ICT (information communication technology) industry. Now, we are witnessing the global trend of Internet and digitalization. TAITRA plays an important role for connecting businesses in the global arena. We have fulfilled our missions in every phase and progressed with the country’s economic development and constantly adjusted its services with time, and our performance was highly affirmed by industries and enterprises.
This year marks a special milestone for TAITRA as we are celebrating our 50th anniversary. Facing challenges of new digital era and a whole new economic landscape in the post-COVID-19, we need to accelerate our transformation to become a platform for smart services, make connections between companies. Through our 63 overseas offices, we will continue to explore new opportunities for Taiwanese companies and upgrade new skills and methods, for example, by developing online-to-offline digital marketing tools and business matching methods.
In addition, TAITRA will continue its role as the strategic forefront fighter to develop Taiwan’s economy and trade by helping industries carry out the President Tsai Ing-wen’s directive mentioned in the inaugural speech, of enhancing international cooperation and sustainable development of the six major core strategic industries and building up Taiwan’s new ecosystem of the digital economy.
展望未來，貿協除了繼續扮演「國家經貿的航空母艦」角色外，更將以使命必達的執行力，順應時勢變化，發揮創意，嘗試各種創新挑戰，並加速數位化，運用新科技，整合產業生態系，擔任臺灣「數位科技的領航者」及「創新模式的推動者」的角色，提供我商「第一哩路到最後一哩路（from the first mile to the last mile）」、貫穿產業價值鏈整體環節的數位服務。
Going forward, besides being the aircraft carrier that navigated Taiwan’s economic and trade development, TAITRA will further deliver excellent implementation and creative responses to new challenges. We will accelerate digitalization, leverage technology and integrate industry ecosystems to provide Taiwanese companies with digital services “from the first mile to the last mile” to connect every part of the value chain, bringing its role as a digital technology navigator and innovative business model enabler of Taiwan into full play.
Undoubtedly, TAITRA will continue to lead in the front and team up with Taiwanese companies to move forward for the future prosperity of Taiwan in the next up and coming 50 years.
Ms. Leonor F. M. Lin
President & CEO
For almost half a century, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, or TAITRA, was established to provide services to Taiwan’s small and medium-sized enterprises. As demands changed over time, TAITRA also evolved and innovated by leveraging new technologies to improve its services in width and depth. Through multiple marketing projects, TAITRA contributed to Taiwan’s economy by painstakingly leading companies to reach out and develop world markets.
Over the past 50 years, TAITRA has also innovated on service offerings to keep up with global trends in accordance with the government’s economic and trade policy, as Taiwanese companies’ demand for export and trade has varied accordingly with global economic change. COMPUTEX, a globally renowned flagship ICT (Information Communication Technology) exhibition held by TAITRA, is a good example of this profile. At the beginning, the scale of this export-oriented exhibition was approximately 200 booths. With the rapid tech trend, COMPUTEX has turned its position into “building global technology ecosystems”, including launching InnoVEX, a feature exhibit of COMPUTEX since 2016. It is recognized as one of the most influential startup platforms. COMPUTEX today has successfully become the second largest professional ICT exhibition in the world, accommodating more than 5,000 booths to join the event. In addition, Taiwan has eight exhibitions, including COMPUTEX, certified by UFI the Global Association of Exhibition Industry as a professional international exhibition, making Taiwan a globally-recognized professional MICE destination with prestigious branding. In the MICE construction aspect, Taiwan’s Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center (TaiNEX 1 & TaiNEX 2) also pioneered the provision of AI and 5G-based cutting-edge smart services inside exhibition halls to keep Taiwan ahead of other countries in Asia.
TAITRA’s other mission is to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in expanding to critical markets outside Taiwan. In recent years, TAITRA has led domestic enterprises to reach emerging markets in southbound countries Africa and the Middle East. Overseas offices were established in Tel Aviv in Israel, New Delhi in India, Colombo in Sri Lanka and so on, to enhance access to local markets. In addition, TAITRA refined its services and made them more customer-centered, such as organizing marketing groups in small but agile sizes and providing tailor-made international marketing consulting services to companies to maximizing marketing solutions.
To help Taiwan gain a more global presence, TAITRA has been actively participating in international trade organizations. TAITRA entered the WTCA (World Trade Center Association) in the name of Taipei World Trade Center in 1980. It also held the 25th WTCA General Assembly in 1994, which earned it accolades from WTCA members and enhanced Taiwan’s global visibility and brand value. It received eight Best Practice Awards from WTCA in 2012 to hit an excellent record that no other members have yet surpassed. In recent years, TAITRA has been elected as a WTCA council director for several consecutive terms. TAITRA won the tender to host the General Assembly again and be responsible for the 2020 WTCA General Assembly.
In addition to the WTCA assembly, TAITRA has represented Taiwan at many international Grand Events. For example, it led Taiwan back to the World Expoafter a 40-year gap by attending Expo Shanghai 2010, demonstrating Taiwan’s strengths on the international stage and wowing the world with an impressive brand image.
In response to the trend towards digitalization, TAITRA evolved with time. Externally, it leveraged digital technology to provide digital trade-related services to Taiwanese enterprises and internally facilitated digital transformation to enhance its training-offering capabilities. TAITRA provided training to enhance the digital capabilities of Taiwanese companies and online-to-offline marketing services to small and medium enterprises by organizing physical purchase match meetings and video conferences to match international buyers and Taiwanese companies. Furthermore, one of its websites, info.taiwantrade.com, was in alliance with foreign trans-national e-commerce platforms to introduce digital channels to our small and medium-sized enterprises, on which more than 280,000 product items were available via e-commerce.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly spread around the world, causing protectionism to rise globally, resulting in reduced human contact and communication, a change in consumer behavior and lifestyle, an increase in work-from-home that could become a normal working pattern in the future, and an acceleration of the stay-at-home economy. During the outbreak, Taiwan was highly appreciated by the world for its strict and appropriate prevention of the COVID-19 spread. With the experience of sharing medical equipment and pandemic prevention worldwide, Taiwan demonstrated its strong competitiveness in public health control and digital capabilities, which also contributed to Taiwan’s positive global exposure to export development.
For the past 50 years, TAITRA has been working closely with it small and medium-sized enterprises to develop step by step, by providing them with necessary services. Over the next 50 years, TAITRA, with its founding missions in mind, will continue to improve itself with relentless efforts and evolve over time to team up with it small and medium-sized enterprises to surprise the world with new stories of Taiwan’s trade and exports.