Taiwan targeting China's fashion market
Taiwan -once known around the world for its cheap garment
exports, Taiwan is now seeking to leverage a new opening to the
China market to make its mark on the Asian fashion stage. While
several Taiwanese designers have been recognized for their work
internationally, government officials say the lack of a
homegrown high-end design industry is holding them back.
A trade deal signed in June will make the Chinese market more
open to the Taiwanese, slashing tariffs on goods including
apparel and punishing mainland copycats of Taiwanese designs.
The deal is part of President Ma Ying-jeou's overall effort
to reduce tensions with China, and build a more cooperative
relationship across the 100 mile (160-kilometer) wide Taiwan
Strait 61 years after the island and the mainland split amid
Vice Economics Minister Huang Chung-chiu said lower tariffs
are good news for the island's fashion industry, but only if it
learned to change its focus from mass production to market
Taiwan was once a dominant force in world textile production,
but its ranking has slipped to No. 6 after many of its big
players shifted operations to China in the 1990s to take
advantage of lower labour costs. Taiwan's textile exports
totalled $9.4 billion in 2009, a 40% decline from the heyday of
1997. China is the island's largest market, taking 22% of the
China levies a heavy 17% duty on all imported clothing.
Taiwanese garment makers say the impending tariff cuts could
help their access to the mainland market, particularly because
Chinese appear to have a keen interest in things coming from the
self-ruled island Beijing still claims its own.
“Because of our shared culture, Taiwanese designers can cater
to the needs of Chinese better than Westerners," said Gioia Pan,
one of the few Taiwanese designers with stores in China.
Currently, fabrics account for the biggest export item of
Taiwan's textile industry, and many fabric makers are ramping up
production with tariffs expected to drop from 17% to zero in two