Legal Market Overview
Recovering well from the Covid-19 pandemic, Taiwan’s economy saw significant growth over 2021-2022, driven predominantly by the services and technology sectors. A highly tech-focused economy, Taiwan is the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter of semiconductors. Despite recent moves by the US to increase its own domestic production levels of semiconductors, Taiwan looks set to retain its dominant market position for the foreseeable future.
Though China is still Taiwan’s largest trading partner, increasingly tense diplomatic relations between the two nations has led many firms to take steps to protect themselves against any risk of unrest in the region. Domestic companies are increasingly seeking funds to assist with consolidating their market position, while manufacturers dependant on Chinese supply chains are looking to expand elsewhere, seeking more stable trading partners. In recent years the government has sought to curb the domestic banking sector’s reliance on China by encouraging the expansion of Taiwanese banks into South-East Asia. Known as the “go South” initiative, it encourages domestic banks to seek out new investment opportunities in less developed economies, such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia.
Seeking to complement the importation of energy from the Middle East and south east Asia, Taiwan has invested heavily in its renewable energy market, particularly in onshore and offshore wind farming. The government is currently in Phase 3 of its tendering process for offshore wind developments, encouraging international investment in the sector. There has also been a significant increase in international investment in energy storage, with several high-profile developments currently ongoing. Until 2017, Taiwan’s domestic energy market had been nationalised under state-owned monopoly operator Taipower. With the Energy Act in 2017, the sector was reformed and liberalised, allowing private parties to operate power plants, with many international investors capitalising on this new opportunity and acquiring stakes in the sector during its period of flux.
In 2022, the Taiwan Fair Trade Commission released a draft white paper titled ‘Competition Policy in the Digital Economy’ which will specifically focus on the growth of digital platforms in the media sector. This could see Taiwan move towards an Australian model whereby platforms pay for the content they host; the effects of this on the market will likely be felt within the following 12 months.
Though Taiwan plays host to some notable international firms such as Baker McKenzie and Jones Day, the legal economy is not dominated by international firms to the same extent as other jurisdictions in Asia. Domestic firms Lee and Li Attorneys-at-Law, Tsar & Tsai Law Firm, and Lin & Partners Attorneys-At-Law are universally recognised as key players, competing with the international megafirms and providing excellent international and cross-border options for multinational corporations operating in the region.