Global firms less confident about Taiwan’s economic outlook this year: poll

24, Jan. 2019

Leo Seewald, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei briefs on the findings of the 2019 Business Climate Survey on Jan. 23, 2018.
Leo Seewald, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei briefs on the findings of the 2019 Business Climate Survey on Jan. 23, 2018.

TAIPEI, NNA - The heads of multinational firms in Taiwan are less confident about the island’s economic outlook for 2019, with only 45.8 percent holding a positive view, down nearly 10 percentage points from a year earlier, according to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei.

The annual Business Climate Survey released Wednesday also showed 53.6 percent of business leaders are optimistic about Taiwan’s economy over three years, 3.3 percentage points more than the previous year.

Some 80 percent of the executives surveyed are sanguine about their own companies’ profitability, either somewhat confident or very confident of revenue growth for both the next 12 months and three years.

The survey, conducted from Nov. 12 to Dec. 21, 2018, by PwC Taiwan, targeted 391 voting members of the chamber, with 179 of them responding.

Concerns over the U.S.-China trade row, pressure on Taiwan from China, cybersecurity threats, and Washington’s “America First” trade policy are to blame for the more cautious outcome, AmCham Taipei Chairman Leo Seewald said at a press conference to announce the survey results.

“So many of the companies in Taiwan have a vast interest involving the United States and China, so any trade dispute between these two countries means instability (for Taiwan),” he said.

Asked in which area they see business growth opportunities for the next 12 months, 43.6 percent of the executives surveyed cited product or service innovation, while 35.8 percent expect their businesses to benefit from expansion of the existing market. “This reflects Taiwan is a mature market,” Seewald said.

Seewald also mentioned the loss of homegrown talent, one of the key concerns for foreign corporations in Taiwan. “We need more young people who want to stay and develop their career in Taiwan,” he said. With many now seeking opportunities overseas in places such as Hong Kong and China, “I think this is a challenge Taiwan faces.”

Taiwan’s human capital is one of its biggest assets as its people are considered hardworking and trustworthy, according to the poll. Of the respondents, 88.8 percent said they will either increase or retain their full-time employees in Taiwan during 2019.

The survey also found that 86.6 percent of bosses worry about power supply sufficiency and 63.1 percent are concerned over the Taiwanese government’s policy of phasing out nuclear energy, which they fear would affect their expansion plans.

In light of the poll’s findings, Seewald suggested that Taiwan move decisively toward innovation with continuous reform to attract more foreign investment and create higher value-added jobs.

Caption:

Leo Seewald, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei briefs on the findings of the 2019 Business Climate Survey on Jan. 23, 2018.