By Antony McGregor Dey on 08 July, 2016

10 Cultural Competencies for Doing Business in Taiwan

By Antony McGregor Dey
GetGlobal's Marketing Director

With a strong and modern infrastructure, and a focus on attracting new investment, Taiwan is a promising foreign market for U.S. business expansion. Here are a few things you should know when considering doing business in “The Heart of Asia.”

1.     Start your bidding: Taiwan government procurement is open to international bidding as part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). That includes U.S. companies.

2.     Farm to cha: “Cha” meaning fork in Mandarin, that is. Taiwan is the world’s largest per capita importer of U.S. farm products - including wheat, meat, corn and soybeans - making it the United States’ sixth largest export market for agricultural products.

3.     E-buy: Buoyed by the growth of personal mobile devices and with high internet connectivity in country, Taiwanese e-commerce is on the rise. More than 62% of Taiwanese consumers report online shopping activity, compared to about 66% in the U.S.

4.     Smarty pants (and skirts): Taiwan's literacy rate is 98% and over 36% of the population holds a bachelor’s degree (compared to 34% in the U.S.). U.S. businesses expanding overseas will find a lot of talent in Taiwan’s 10-million strong workforce.

5.     Seniority rules: Unlike what many consider an increasingly millennial-dominated U.S. workforce, in Taiwan, seniority is important in business. Business dealings (and respect) should always be directed toward senior Taiwanese executives. Sending senior staff to meet with potential business partners is a good idea too.

6.     Oh man: Taiwan business is still male-dominated. While women are respected, they generally hold more junior roles in Taiwan. American women can do business there, but respect and relationship building may take a while.

7.     Managing moxie: Subordinate staff in Taiwan is not known to take the initiative – this is seen as disrespectful to senior staff.  Local staff may be “go-getters” – but only after clear direction and guidance.

8.     The Social Network: In Taiwan, Guanxi, or relationship building, is important. Take the time to develop business relationships (and trust) over meals and entertainment.

9.     To thine own self: China and Taiwan split in 1949. Most people from Taiwan now consider themselves Taiwanese, not Chinese.

10.  Pick-up sticks: Never, ever stab your chopsticks into your rice, leave them sticking straight up out of your bowl, or place them in a crossed position. This is considered an insult to the Taiwanese - having funeral-related connotations. 

Of course, there’s a lot more to learn about Taiwan and doing business there. Interested in expanding business into Taiwan or to other foreign markets? You need to be at GetGlobal 2016 where you will meet the experts on global business expansion.

Topics: ASEAN, Business, Culture, GetGlobal, International Business, Logistics, Strategic Planning, Taiwan

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