chapter  5
29 Pages

Moving Along the Electronics Value Chain: Taiwan in the Global Economy

ByDouglas B. Fuller

Electronics has been a driving force in Taiwan’s economic development for the past two decades as Taiwan has moved from developing to developed country status.1 Taiwan began to emerge as a major assembler of electronics as early as the late 1960s (Kawakami 1996; Amsden and Chu 2003). From the mid-1980s through the end of the 1990s, the industry grew at roughly twice the overall rate of GDP growth (Hsueh et al. 2000, p. 158 for 1986 to 1990 GDP figures). In 2002 the total production value of information technology (IT) hardware was US$17.4 billion, excluding semiconductor production and Internet appliances production (IIY 2003, pp. 3-1, 3-4). This made Taiwan the world’s fourthlargest producer of IT hardware after the United States, China, and Japan. The value of semiconductor or integrated circuit (IC) production in 2002 was US$19.2 billion including design services (Ibid., p. 2-2).2 The production of Internet appliances accounted for another US$3.4 billion. This figure also includes Taiwanese-owned production facilities in other economies (Ibid., p. 3-1). In 2002, the growth rates of the IT hardware (12.1 percent) and semiconductor subsectors (23.9 percent) were well above the GDP growth rate of 3.59 percent. Semiconductor output comprised 21.6 percent of all industrial production and IT hardware accounted for another 19.5 percent. The growth in these industrial sectors has had a very large impact on Taiwan’s overall economic growth, because industry is still responsible for a large portion of Taiwanese GDP (31.1 percent).3 By any aggregate statistical measure, the electronics industry is a major force in the Taiwanese economy.