Leading builders of the Taiwan boating industry, as well as government officials and marine trade associations, held a joint press conference at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show last week to discuss opportunities for U.S. builders and equipment suppliers as its domestic market expands. The group also provided information about Taiwan’s boating industry.
With 33 boat and yacht manufacturers, Taiwan is arguably the world’s best-kept secret in the global boating industry. Its brands include Kadey-Krogen, Ocean Alexander, Fleming, Nordhavn, Horizon, Dyna and Outer Reef. The country was ranked fourth in the world last year behind Germany, Holland, and Italy for producing the most yachts over 85 feet. It is also the largest producer of recreational boats in Asia. David Chien, director of general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, told the group of boating writers that up to 150 luxury yachts are built in the country each year. More than 90 percent are exported.
Despite the strong export track record, the domestic industry is small and constrained, partly because of government restrictions on marina development and partly due to a lack of maritime culture and interest with the island’s 24 million inhabitants.
Kung told Trade Only Today that there are 12 new marina projects in development that will add another 400 slips to the country. The country currently has only 483 private slips. Taiwan is also low in yacht ownership compared to its Asian neighbors. About 2,100 private boats are registered in the country, compared to 440,000 in Japan.
Kung’s company has manufacturing operations in Kha Shing and operates a new marina called Pier 22 in Kaohsiung. Kung has seen the government loosening restrictions on marina development as interest in boating has grown over the past five years. “We’re seeing growth of the domestic market, which has been encouraging for the boat builders,” Kung said.
Growing the domestic market has also become a bigger priority for the marine companies that launched the Taiwan International Boat Show in 2014.
According to Andrea Lou, project manager for TAITRA, the country’s association of exporters, part of the reason for the press conference at FLIBS — attended by Ft. Lauderdale mayor Dean Trantalis, and government officials from Taiwan and Malaysia — was to create interest among U.S. boat and equipment manufacturers for the boat show, which takes place March 12-15 at the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center.
“Taiwan has a lot of extraordinary yacht brands and boatbuilders,” said Lou during the press conference. “If you’re a boat equipment supplier, we welcome you to join us at the boat show.”
Lou said the government has relaxed restrictions on yacht ownership, which opens up a door for non-Taiwanese builders to enter the market. TAITRA, as the country’s main export trade association, is now focused on attracting builders and suppliers to Taiwan to expand trade relations between the U.S. and Taiwan.