Formally the Republic of China, Taiwan is a strategically located island in East Asia near key international trade partners including mainland China, Japan and the Philippines.
Taiwan is sometimes called Chinese Taipei, Taiwan Province of China, ROC or in earlier times Formosa.
The island country in East Asia has a land area of 13,826 square miles (35,808 square kilometers), Taiwan is home to 23.6 million residents at April 2021 according to the International Monetary Fund, ranking Taiwan among the 20 crowded countries with the highest population density.
Mandarin and Formosan languages are commonly spoken by locals in Taiwan. Facilitating its role in international trade, English is taught as a foreign language in Taiwan. The Taiwanese government has proposed to make English a second official language by 2030.
Taiwan is the world’s 19th richest economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on a Purchasing Power Parity basis, generating $1.404 trillion worth of products and services as of April 2021.
Taiwan’s demand for imported goods represents a subtotal US$76.4 billion worth of Taiwanese spending on the 100 most valuable consumer products imported into the East Asia island country during 2020.
That consumer-driven dollar amount represents just over a quarter (26.6%) of the overall value of all goods imported into Taiwan. Overall spending on all Taiwanese imports, including raw materials, intermediate products and semi-finished goods, totaled $287.2 billion in 2020.
Among Taiwan’s most valuable consumer products in 2020 are: phone devices including smartphones; cars; refined petroleum oils; computer parts or accessories; and coal.
Spending on all of Taiwan’s imported goods flatlined via a 0.4% from 2019 to 2020. Taiwan’s purchases focused on its top 100 consumer imports posted a more aggressive 4.9% increase over the latest annual period.
The acceleration in Taiwanese spending for its top 100 imported consumer products outpaced the global average from 2019 to 2020, which was an average drop of -8.2% for all importing countries around the world.
Among the top 100 consumer products imported by Taiwan, 68 increased in total value from 2019 to 2020 whereas 32 declined.
Changes in Taiwanese consumer demand for essential imports offer future opportunities for international suppliers who correctly anticipate which upward or downward trends will continue.
Consumer Products Defined
Economics educator BoyceWire defines a consumer product as a final good or end product that a business creates for consumers to buy. For example, consumers often purchase refined petroleum oil at the gas station while imported crude oil is an intermediate good subject to further processing before being sold to end users.
Although there may be a few wealthy individual buyers, products like turbojets are excluded from the consumer products targeted by this study. That is because turbojets are usually purchased by corporations. In contrast, it is common for a consumer to buy a motorcycle.
Types of Consumer Products
This article focuses on 3 distinct consumer product types.
Convenience Products are easy to access, non-durable, have relatively lower prices and therefore consumers frequently purchase them. Examples of convenience products are food, alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, and soap.
Shopping Products are not as easily available, involve more time to make a buying decision, are durable and are not bought as often as most convenience products. A great example of a shopping product is a mobile phone where buying the wrong model is a much more expensive mistake than buying a disappointing loaf of bread.
Specialty Products describe another consumer product type. This grey area includes infrequently purchased, expensive, durable and sometimes rare items. Consumers may consider the product’s brand image when making their purchase decisions. Some examples of speciality products are gold, silver, diamonds, jewelry, and branded refrigerators and dishwashers.
Taiwan’s Consumer Imports Research List
The searchable marketing intelligence table below showcases Taiwan’s 100 highest-value imported consumer products in descending order. Items were selected at the four-digit Harmonized System tariff classification code level.
The table’s fourth column is labeled YOY for year over year. The fifth column identifies each entry’s consumer product type.
|3||Processed petroleum oils||$5,574,462,000||-18.9%||CP|
|4||Computer parts, accessories||$5,275,220,000||+34.6%||SP|
|5||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$4,946,175,000||-29.1%||CP|
|6||Computers, optical readers||$4,000,769,000||+13.8%||SP|
|8||Unrecorded sound media||$2,500,109,000||+46.4%||SP|
|9||Electrical converters/power units||$2,207,228,000||+22.3%||SP|
|11||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$1,820,703,000||+19.8%||SP|
|14||Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools||$1,107,048,000||+7.3%||SY|
|19||Cases, handbags, wallets||$754,579,000||-4.9%||SP|
|20||Electric storage batteries||$740,304,000||+1.5%||SY|
|21||Other food preparations||$694,945,000||-1.7%||CP|
|22||Miscellaneous plastic items||$690,263,000||+16.6%||CP|
|23||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$664,987,000||-12.6%||CP|
|25||Miscellaneous glass articles||$550,479,000||+32.5%||SP|
|29||Hot-rolled iron/non-alloy steel items||$519,960,000||-3.5%||SP|
|30||Electric generating sets, converters||$516,114,000||+95.9%||SY|
|33||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$440,512,000||+7.9%||CP|
|35||Fresh or chilled beef||$430,161,000||+13%||CP|
|37||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$422,040,000||+10%||SY|
|38||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$413,532,000||+8.1%||CP|
|40||Video console games, table games||$402,854,000||+76.7%||SP|
|41||Rubber tires (new)||$400,998,000||+2%||SP|
|44||Prepared glues, adhesives||$384,051,000||+12%||SP|
|46||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$323,018,000||+15.2%||SP|
|47||Packaged insecticides, herbicides||$321,562,000||+12.9%||SP|
|49||Seats (not barber/dentist chairs)||$312,044,000||+6.9%||SP|
|50||Other organic cleaning preparations||$310,748,000||+17.6%||CP|
|51||Miscellaneous aluminum items||$290,491,000||+30%||SP|
|52||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$273,658,000||-3.7%||SP|
|53||Whole fish (frozen)||$268,012,000||+2%||CP|
|54||Malt extract, food preparations||$258,929,000||-9.7%||CP|
|57||Apples, pears (fresh)||$240,611,000||-13.6%||CP|
|60||Shoe polish, furniture/floor waxes||$230,290,000||+23.1%||SP|
|61||Sugar (cane or beet)||$229,913,000||+0.5%||CP|
|64||Uncoated paper for writing/printing||$223,657,000||-4.7%||CP|
|67||Wrist/pocket watches (regular case)||$214,697,000||-13.6%||SP|
|68||Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners||$211,838,000||+2.1%||CP|
|69||Fish or meat flours, pellets||$210,911,000||+2.2%||SP|
|70||Women's clothing (not knit/crochet)||$210,838,000||-5.5%||SP|
|72||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$201,266,000||-9.2%||SP|
|74||Whole fish (fresh)||$192,138,000||-2.2%||CP|
|76||Dishwash, clean/dry/fill machines||$181,914,000||+11.7%||SY|
|77||Vulcanized rubber items||$181,302,000||+6%||SP|
|78||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$180,795,000||+9.6%||CP|
|81||Shaving preparations, deodorants||$175,567,000||-2.6%||SP|
|84||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$163,939,000||+4.9%||CP|
|87||Screws, bolts, washers, hooks, pins||$156,986,000||-2.3%||SP|
|88||Soap, organic surface-active goods||$156,697,000||+9%||SP|
|90||Special hand/machine tools||$155,134,000||+1.3%||SY|
|91||Household base metal mountings||$155,090,000||+13%||SY|
|92||Fish fillets, pieces||$152,663,000||+16.8%||CP|
|93||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$151,241,000||+2.9%||SP|
|96||Men's suits (unknit/non-crochet)||$147,212,000||-4.5%||SP|
|97||Wrist/pocket watches (precious case)||$146,704,000||-2.7%||SP|
|99||Sauces, mixed condiments, seasoning||$142,015,000||+8.6%||CP|
Totaling 47 items, Taiwan’s most popular product type is shopping products (SP). This cohort was led by imported phone devices including smartphones, cars, computer parts or accessories, computers, unrecorded sound media and electrical converters or power units.
In second place via 35 items are convenience products (CP), articles that are bought routinely, used only once and generally require less thinking time before making a buying decision. Popular examples include processed petroleum oils, coal, medications, soya beans, corn, miscellaneous food preparations, miscellaneous plastic items, and alcohol spirits and liqueurs.
Another 18 speciality products (SY) ranking among Taiwan’s top 100 imported consumer goods. Major speciality products imported into Taiwan include gold; liquid crystal, laser or optical tools; beauty products such as makeup or skin care; and electric storage batteries.
Durable consumer products are goods like cars, trucks, printing machinery, insulated wire or cable, and furniture that last a relatively long time. Consumers can put durable products to use again and again. By product type, note that both shopping products and speciality products are considered as durable consumer goods.
Non-durable consumer products (ND) are goods that are not re-used once consumed. Coal, medications, sugar and corn are examples of non-durable goods. Convenience products are uniquely non-durable consumer products.
Based on the product types identified in the above table, 65 of Taiwan’s highest-value consumer imported products are durable while 35 are classified as non-durable.
Using the provided table, you can also peruse the greatest increases or decreases in product values from 2019 to 2020. To do so, click on the heading of the fourth column.
Fastest-Growing Consumer Imports
Listed below are the top 10 consumer products imported into Taiwan that experienced the highest percentage increases in spending from 2019 to 2020.
- Electric generating sets, converters: Up 95.9% (US$516.1 million)
- Video console games, table games: Up 76.7% ($402.9 million)
- Gold: Up 58.2% ($2 billion)
- Silver: Up 54.8% ($524.3 million)
- Unrecorded sound media: Up 46.4% ($2.5 billion)
- Computer parts, accessories: Up 34.6% ($5.3 billion)
- Microphones, headphones, amplifiers: Up 32.5% ($463.4 million)
- Miscellaneous glass articles: Up 32.5% ($550.5 million)
- Motorcycles: Up 31.2% ($146 million)
- Miscellaneous aluminum items: Up 30% ($290.5 million)
Three among the above top 10 gainers are speciality products and therefore also durable goods that consumers can re-use over time. This trio of fastest-growing speciality products in demand by importers in Taiwan are comprised of electric generating sets or converters, unwrought gold and unwrought silver.
The 7 fastest-growing shopping products are: video console games and table games; unrecorded sound media; computer parts or accessories; microphones, headphones and amplifiers; miscellaneous items made with glass; and motorcycles.
Absent from the above list of top sales growers are non-durable imported consumer products.
Worst-Declining Consumer Imports
Spending by import buyers in Taiwan on the following 10 items decreased in value by the highest percentages from 2019 to 2020.
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: Down -29.1% ($4.9 billion)
- Jewelry: Down -24% ($434.1 million)
- Swine meat: Down -20.8% ($175.5 million)
- Processed petroleum oils: Down -18.9% ($5.6 billion)
- Beauty/makeup/skin care: Down -15.5% ($851.2 million)
- Apples, pears (fresh): Down -13.6% ($240.6 million)
- Wrist/pocket watches (with regular case): Down -13.6% ($214.7 million)
- Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs): Down -12.6% ($665 million)
- Textile footwear: Down -12.2% ($349.6 million)
- Printing machinery: Down -11.6% ($477.8 million)
Three categories among Taiwanese top 10 severest decliners are durable shopping products used over a period of time. The worst slippage among those categories was for Taiwan’s imported wrist or pocket watches with regular cases, textile footwear and printing machinery.
The strongest declines for the 2 durable speciality goods belong to jewelry and beauty, makeup or skin care products.
There were 5 non-durable consumer product among Taiwan’s 10 major import decliners from 2019 to 2020, namely coal, swine meat, processed petroleum oils, fresh apples and pears, and alcohol including spirits or liqueurs.
Key Suppliers by Country
This analysis reveals competitive suppliers that target demand for 5 of Taiwan’s top consumer import products.
Taiwan’s biggest imported consumer product by value is phone devices including smartphones. The other 4 leading consumer goods imported into Taiwan are cars, processed petroleum oils, computer parts or accessories, and coal.
Below, you will find major supplying countries for Taiwan’s imported:
Phone devices including smartphones: China (74.9% of total), Vietnam (8.6%), Malaysia (2.1%), United States (1.8%), Thailand (also 1.8%), Mexico (1.5%), Singapore (1.4%), Japan (1.1%), Israel (0.5%), and India (0.4%).
Cars: Japan (36.1% of total), Germany (26.3%), United States (13.7%), United Kingdom (2.9%), Sweden (2.6%), Czech Republic (2.3%), Slovakia (2.3%), Hungary (2%), Mexico (1.8%), and Spain (1.6%).
Processed petroleum oils: United Arab Emirates (17.6% of total), South Korea (13.5%), Qatar (10.4%), India (9.5%), Russia (7.7%), United States (7.1%), Malaysia (6.7%), Algeria (5.2%), Singapore (2.4%), and Japan (2.3%).
Computer parts or accessories: China (68.5% of total), South Korea (7.6%), Philippines (3.4%), Malaysia (2.5%), Vietnam (2.3%), United States (1.2%), Mexico (0.4%), Japan (0.3%), Thailand (0.2%), and Singapore (also 0.2%).
Coal: Australia (54.1% of total), Indonesia (22%), Russia (15.4%), Canada (5.3%), South Africa (1.5%), China (0.9%) and Colombia (0.6%).
More great research: Taiwan’s Main Imports by Top Supplier Countries, 100 Most Valuable Imported Consumer Goods to Sell in Malaysia, 100 Best Consumer Goods for Selling to Importers in Russia, 100 Top Consumer Goods to Sell to Importers in Brazil, Sweden’s Top Imported Consumer Products Ranked by Value
Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational portals.
BoyceWire, Consumer Goods Definition.
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Taiwan Economy.
International Trade Centre, Trade Map.
Richest Country Reports, Top 100 Richest Countries by GDP.
Trading Economics, Taiwan Consumer Spending.
Wikipedia, List of largest consumer markets.
World’s Top Exports, Taiwan’s Top 10 Imports.