Taiwan’s machine tools industry has been forged over more than 60 years of step-by-step progress and is starting to feature in the ranks of the world’s best-known brands.
The Taiwan machine tool industry has consistently ranked in the global top five in terms of both output value and export value, with the industry worth some US$3 billion annually to Taiwan, reflecting both the standard and the quality of the products. Indeed machine tools have consistently played a vital role in supporting the so-called “shallow-dish” economy of the island, where exports account for more than 70% of GDP.
Figures provided by the Data Processing Office of the Customs Administration under the Ministry of Finance show that in 2013, Taiwan had total machine tool exports of more than US$3.5 billion, with metal cutting tools accounting for US$2.8 billion of this figure, and metal forming tools accounting for a further US$676 million. The total value of Taiwan’s machine tool component exports for 2013 was more than US$1 billion. The main types of machine tool exported in 2013 were machining centers, with an export value of US$1.1 billion, followed by lathes, with an export value of US$769 million. The share of metal forming machine tools accounted for by pressing and stamping tools fell by 3.4%, while other forming tools grew by nearly 10%.
The top ten destination countries (or regions) for Taiwan’s machine tool exports in 2013 were China (including Hong Kong), United States, Thailand, Turkey, Germany, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Russia, and the Netherlands, with analysis of the figures also showing that export performance was particularly strong in Indonesia and South Korea. Taiwan’s machine tools exports to the Mainland China (including Hong Kong) region were worth some US$1.1 billion, accounting for 34% of exports by market, with the US market second with 11.3%, and Thailand third with 6.4%.
Looking ahead, as the global economic recovery continues to progress, the Taiwan machine tool and component industry has a great opportunity to play an even more important role in the global market as a supplier nation. 2014 is expected to see growth of 15-20%, or possibly even higher, giving Taiwan a good chance of taking fourth place in the global rankings of machine tool manufacturing regions. In addition to its success in the whole machine market, Taiwan became the third-ranked global supplier region for precision machine tool components as far back as 2010, while the associated companies have expanded their efforts into the semiconductor equipment and biomedical industries in recent years. Driven by growth in the relevant industries, parts and component manufacturers are likely to gain substantial momentum in 2014, with growth rates forecast to rise beyond 20%.