flag Taiwan, China Taiwan, China: Investing

In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in Taiwan, China | Protection of Foreign Investment | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Office Real Estate and Land Ownership | Investment Aid | Investment Opportunities | Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer | Finding Assistance For Further Information

 

FDI in Figures

Global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in the first half of 2021 reached an estimated USD 852 billion, showing stronger than expected rebound momentum, with an increase of 78% of the partial-year growth rate on the previous year according to UNCTAD’s Investment Trends Monitor released on October 2021. The global FDI outlook for the full year 2021 has also improved from earlier projections. The current momentum and the growth of international project finance are likely to bring FDI flows back beyond pre-pandemic levels. Nevertheless, the duration of the health crisis and the pace of vaccinations, especially in developing countries, as well as the speed of implementation of infrastructure investment stimulus, remain important factors of uncertainty. Other important risk factors, including labour and supply chain bottlenecks, energy prices and inflationary pressures, will also affect final year results. (UNCTAD, October 2021). Covid’s impact on developing markets and shifting investment from China are major trends that will impact foreign investment in 2022.

According to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2021, FDI flows to Taiwan stood at USD 8.8 billion in 2020, unchanged from the 2019 level. In 2020, the stock of FDI was about USD 110 billion. In an uncertain global environment due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Taiwan's FDI performance was impressive. According to Taiwan's official statistics, 1,313 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects totaling USD 2.3 billion were approved from January to June 2021. As for inbound investment from mainland China, 20 cases were approved with an amount of USD 2.7 million from January to June 2021 (Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan, 2021). The Netherlands, the British Virgin Islands and Japan are the largest investors in the country (excluding investment from Mainland China). Manufacturing, financial services, and IT attract most foreign investment.

Taiwan is an attractive destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) as its economy benefits from regional economic dynamism, a population with high purchasing power and the prominence of high-tech. However, the global economic crisis, the subsequent Eurozone crisis and the slowdown in China have negatively impacted FDI flows. Speculative activities, rising house prices, excessive bureaucracy and the rigidity of the legislative framework are all obstacles to investment. Nonetheless, Taiwan's business environment remains very attractive, as the World Bank ranks its economy 15th out of 190 in its last Doing Business 2020 ranking, losing two spots compared to the previous year. Taiwan has one of the world’s best regulatory system for protecting minority investors (transparency). In 2019, Taiwan made paying taxes costlier by increasing the corporate income tax rate, explaining the loss of points in the ranking. Moreover, Taiwan also re-entered the AT Kearney Foreign Direct Investment Index 2019 after a two-year hiatus, being ranked as the 22nd most attractive economy for foreign investment in the world.

The latest United Nation Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Trends Report provides additional information on FDI in Asia-Pacific in 2021 and 2022.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 201920202021
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 8,2406,0535,405
FDI Stock (million USD) 98,552110,506115,911
Number of Greenfield Investments* 817178
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 3,7113,0034,435

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 

FDI STOCKS BY COUNTRY AND INDUSTRY

Main Investing Countries 2020, in %
China 64.6
Japan 10.5
Luxembourg 6.3
Hong Kong 6.1
The Netherlands 4.3
Main Invested Sectors 2020, in %
Financial and insurance 30.5
Manufacturing 18.5
Professional, scientific and technical services 14.3
Wholesale and retail trade 12.1
Electricity and gas supply 12.0
Real estate 5.2

Source: Taiwan Investment Commission - Latest available data.

 
Form of Company Preferred By Foreign Investors
Public limited company.
Form of Establishment Preferred By Foreign Investors
Joint venture in the case of a partnership.
Main Foreign Companies
For a list of foreign companies who invested in Taiwan, refer to the "Success Stories" section on the Invest Taiwan portal.
Sources of Statistics
National Statistics

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What to consider if you invest in Taiwan, China

Strong Points

Advantages for FDI in Taiwan include:

  • The country has a very internationally oriented economy and the trade balance is largely in surplus
  • A strategic geographical location: the country is a gateway to China and to the ASEAN markets
  • Taiwan has a large industrial base (being for example the 4th largest electronics producer in the world) and strong R&D capacity (supported by public spending)
  • Robust external financial position
  • Support for R&D through public expenditure
  • The workforce is abundant, skilled and affordable
  • The financial markets are booming and present many opportunities for foreign investors.
  • Overall, the business environment is very positive and Taiwan ranked in the 15th place in the World Bank's Doing Business 2020 report is a good indication of its strengths.
Weak Points

With an export-oriented economy, Taiwan is dependent on the global economy and is particularly vulnerable to the development of trade with China and the USA, its main trading partners. Some of the disadvatages for the FDI include :

  • Lack of a direct channel of communication with Mainland China
  • Reduced size of the domestic market, which considerably limits local opportunities
  • Poorly protected intellectual property
  • A lack of diversity in the economy (low competitiveness of the services sector for example)
  • Delays of infrastructure projects compared to other advanced Asian economies.
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
Taiwan welcomes and actively promotes foreign direct investment. Local authorities offer investment incentives and support to foreign investors in the form of tax incentives, tariff exemptions, low-interest loans, R&D subsidies and other favourable terms.

Current regulations provide preferential tax incentives to foreign professionals employed in Taiwan, and are aimed at improving the overall environment for recruiting and attracting professionals from other countries (Foreign Talent Retention Act). A network of science and industrial parks, export processing zones, and free trade zones has been developed. Furthermore, in 2019 Taiwan launched a reshoring incentive program to attract Taiwan firms operating in mainland China to return to Taiwan, receiving positive responses from ICT manufacturers.

The national agency Invest Taiwan is responsible for promoting investments and acts as a single-window service provider. For investments of over NTD 500 million (around USD 17 million), the authorities will assign a dedicated project manager to the investment process.

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Protection of Foreign Investment

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By Taiwan, China
To see the list of investment treaties signed by Taiwan, consult UNCTAD's International Investment Agreements Navigator.
International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
Refer to UNCTAD's Investment Dispute Settlement Navigator.
Organizations Offering Their Assistance in Case of Disagreement
ICCWBO , International Court of Arbitration, International Chamber of Commerce
ICSID , International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes
Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
Taiwan is not a signatory of the MIGA convention.
 
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Taiwan, China East Asia & Pacific United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 9.0 5.9 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 5.0 5.2 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 7.0 6.7 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Foreign entities are entitled to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity as local companies. However, Taiwan maintains a negative list of industries closed to foreign investment for reasons related to national security and environmental protection (e.g. public utilities, power distribution, natural gas, postal service, telecommunications, mass media, and air and sea transportation).
Acquisition of Holdings
A majority holding interest in the capital of a Taiwanese company is legal. However the foreign ownership limit on wireless and fixed line telecommunications firms is 60%, including a direct foreign investment limit of 49%. A foreign ownership cap of less than 50% applies on airport ground services firms, air-catering companies, aviation transportation businesses (airlines), and general aviation businesses (commercial helicopters and business jet planes), with a separate limit of 25% for any single foreign investor. Foreign investment in Taiwan-flagged merchant shipping services is limited to 50% for Taiwan shipping companies operating international routes. Furthermore, there is a foreign ownership limit of 49.99% for satellite television broadcasting services and piped distribution of natural gas, and a 49% limit for high-speed rail services.
Specific restrictions apply to Chinese investors.
Obligation to Declare
The Investment Commission screens applications for FDI, mergers, and acquisitions. Foreign investors must submit an application form containing the funding plan, business operation plan, entity registration, and documents certifying the inward remittance of investment funds. If an investment fails review, an investor may re-apply once the reason for the denial has been removed.
Competent Organisation For the Declaration
Investment Commission (MOEAIC)
Requests For Specific Authorisations
All investments are subject to screening, with the approval time generally ranging between two to four days for small investments (under TWD 500 million) to 20-30 days for foreign investments involving cross-border mergers and acquisitions or other special situations. The screening process may also include an assessment of the impact of proposed investments on a sector’s competitive landscape and protection of the rights of local shareholders and employees.

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Office Real Estate and Land Ownership

Possible Temporary Solutions
Consult InstantOffices, CoWorker, MatchOffice, etc.
The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings
Taiwan guarantees land rights to foreigners on a reciprocity base (Taiwanese citizens have to enjoy the same rights in the country of origin of the investor). However, Taiwan’s Land Act stipulated that forests, fisheries, hunting grounds, salt fields, mineral deposits, sources of water, and lands lying within fortified and military areas and those adjacent to national frontiers may not be transferred or leased to foreigners.
Risk of Expropriation
Expropriation can be justified only for public interest and fair compensation must be given within a reasonable period.
No foreign-invested firm has ever been nationalized or expropriated in Taiwan. Under Taiwan law no venture with 45% or more foreign investment can be nationalized for a period of 20 years after the venture is established.

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Investment Aid

Forms of Aid
FDI incentives may take the form of tax exemption, tax credit, tax deferral, low interest loans, land lease incentives, R&D subsidies, etc.
Privileged Domains
Taiwanese authorities have been promoting the “5+2 Innovative Industries” development program targeting industries including smart machinery, biomedicine, Internet of Things (IoT), green energy, and national defence, as well advanced agriculture, circular economy, and semiconductors.
Privileged Geographical Zones
Incentives tend to be focused on investment in the manufacturing sector, advanced technology, public construction, biotechnology and R&D. For further information, consult the section "Key Industries for Investment Promotion" on the invest Taiwan portal.
Free-trade zones
There are seven free trade/free port zones:  Anping, Kaohsiung, Keelung, Suao, Taichung, Taipei, and Taoyuan International Airport.
Taiwan has also over 70 industry clusters devoted to manufacturing products like Hsin Chu, Tainam. Further information can be retrieved on the Economic Geographic Information System (in Chinese).
Public aid and funding organisations
Consult the section "Investment Aid System" on the website of Invest Taiwan. Further information can be accessed here.
 
 

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Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
Finance, wholesale and retail, and electronics sectors.
High Potential Sectors
Advanced technology, digital, traditional manufacturing, and services sectors.
Privatization Programmes
As of 2020, there are 17 state-owned companies with stakes by the central authorities exceeding 50%. Taiwan authorities retain control over some formerly state enterprises that have been privatized (often through the appointments of the boards of directors), including: Chunghwa Telecom, China Steel, China Airlines, Taiwan Fertilizer, Taiwan Salt, CSBC Corporation (shipbuilding), Yang Ming Marine Transportation, and eight public banks.
n August 2017, Taiwan authorities identified CPC Corporation, Taipower Company, and Taiwan Sugar as their next privatization targets; however, currently there is no timetable for privatising existing state-owned enterprises.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Tenders Info, Tenders in Taiwan Province of China
Asian Development Bank, Procurement Plans in Asia
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide

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Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
Some of the 17 existing state-owned companies are large in scale and exert significant influence in their industries, especially monopolies such as Taiwan Power (Taipower) and Taiwan Water. Furthermore, CPC Corporation (formerly China Petroleum Corporation) controls over 70% of Taiwan’s gasoline retail market.

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Latest Update: June 2022