Kaohsiung, the second largest city in Taiwan, is a major centre for economic, political and cultural development in the southern part of the island. With visitor arrivals up 20% compared to last year, it is among the fastest-growing cities in Asia for tourism. This also creates great potential for development and investment.
To explore the growing opportunities, a 30-member Chamber delegation visited Kaohsiung on June 19-21.
The highlight of the mission was a meeting with the city’s new mayor, Han Kuo-yu. Since taking office last year on a wave of popular support, he has been proactively promoting cooperation among Kaohsiung, southern China and Southeast Asia – what he calls “south-south” co-operation.
“Thanks to its harbour and geographical location, Kaohsiung has ‘explosive power’. I hope Hong Kong people can come here more often to explore the investment opportunities and promote economic development,” Mayor Han said.
The delegates said Mayor Han has enormous passion to revitalize the city. PC Yu, Chairman of the Chamber’s Taiwan Interest Group and leader of the mission, added that the Chamber had organized the visit partly in response to the mayor’s initiatives.
“We were interested to learn more about Mayor Han’s goal of ‘Export Goods Out, Welcome People In,’” Yu said, “and to help members explore the investment environment in Kaohsiung.”
Apart from the city’s well-established petrochemical and shipbuilding sectors, emerging industries, such as green technology, biomedical science and smart manufacturing, are driving Kaohsiung towards a more diversified development.
Culture and creativity are also important sectors in Taiwan. To experience first-hand how the local government in Kaohsiung supports these industries, the delegation visited M.ZONE Makerspace and KOSMOS Hatch.
Yang Yuhsiu, CEO of M.ZONE, explained that the company, established in 2016, has been welcomed by many micro-entrepreneurs as it provides over 50 types of professional machinery for carpentry, digital printing and lases for members, which helps reduce design costs. Delegates had the opportunity to design their own key-rings, a fun activity that echoed Yang’s motto of: “Make fun! Make it happen!”
KOSMOS Hatch, a start-up accelerator hub promoted by the Kaohsiung City Government, offers resources for start-ups to undertake research and development. It aims to build an ecosystem that encourages young people to be innovative and start their own businesses. Delegates had fun trying out some of the newly launched AR and VR games at KosmoSpot.
Many Taiwanese companies also pay attention to corporate culture and succession planning. During the trip, the delegation visited three successful companies to learn more about their internal support development.
China Steel Global Trading Corporation is the largest steel company in Taiwan, and makes products ranging from vehicles and household products to strings for musical instrument. China Steel played a part in major construction projects in Taiwan like TAIPEI 101 and Kao Ping Hsi Bridge, and it also supplies global companies, including raw materials for motors for Tesla.
The most distinctive feature of the company’s manpower policy is its mentorship system. New recruits are guided by senior staff members for one-on-one mentoring and support to ensure the finest craftsmanship can be passed on.
Established in 1890 and with a total of 20 stores in Taiwan, Jiu Zhen Nan Food Co Ltd has been steadfast in continuing to hand-make its pastries. To help people appreciate the value and culture of Han bing (Han pastries) and carry on the thousand-year-old tradition, Jiu Zhen Nan Han Pastry House was established in 2016 to allow visitors to experience the handicraft and have a taste of Han bing.
Richard Lee, Chief Operating Officer of Jiu Zhen Nan, said that even though the company has 130 years of history, they understand the importance of active brand management. To this end, they empower young team players to help Jiu Zhen Nan to continue to grow, with a view to achieving the goal of “Taste Local, Link Global.” During the visit, delegates also learned how to make Taiwanese mooncakes – green-bean cakes.
D.E Chung Hua Foods Co Ltd, founded by the couple Lin Tsung-lung and Chen Hsiu-ching with just NT$5,000 (around HK$1,200), started out as a street-side food stand at Kaohsiung’s Shihchuan Night Market in 1993. Within just a few years, it had successfully transformed into a wholesaler supplying food to over 100 lu wei (braised food) shops across the city. Their homemade brand “Playful Iron Eggs” is sold in Europe, the United States, Japan and Hong Kong.
Chen also gave delegates a tour of the Aviation Education Exhibition Hall she operates. The aviation museum exhibits suspended planes, including various military aircraft.
Members of the delegation were keen to try some of the celebrated local farm produce while in Kaohsiung. To learn more about agricultural specialties and the harvest of white water snowflakes (a green vegetable popular in Taiwan), members called on the Meinung Farmers’ Association, and visited The Best of Kaohsiung to purchase local products.
“During the trip, members learned a lot about the unique customs and traditions of Taiwan,” Yu said at the end of the mission. “Taiwanese people are passionate about everything and treat others with honesty and sincerity. They also work hard to get things done – I believe this is the key to success of Taiwanese companies.”