No, we're not talking about one South American country about to pounce on a neighbor.We're talking about an attitude that Utah businesses need if they want to ship more of their products to Taiwan.
At least that's the feeling of Michael C. Lin, a 35-year-old native Taiwanese who has been hired by the Utah Economic Development Division to encourage Utah businesses to do business in Taiwan and boost joint ventures that have Taiwanese developers investing in Utah companies.
Most of Lin's time will be spent on those two jobs, but promotion of tourism will take about 20 percent of Lin's time.
The division opened its trade office in the World Trade Center in Taipei a year ago (rent-free for three years), and until a few weeks ago it was staffed by a part-time director. But state officials wanted a full-time director, so Lin was hired in early October.
Currently, the Taiwanese dollar is strong in relation to the U.S. dollar, so investment by Taiwanese businesses in American companies is a good deal.
Also, the Taiwanese government gives preference to U.S. exporters over companies in other countries. In some instances businesses from some countries aren't allowed to bid on projects.
The Taiwanese are interested in high technology, especially biomedical technology and genetic engineering, but for now Utah businesses mainly export computers and heavy manufacturing machinery. Also part of the $30 million export business to Taiwan are hides tanned in Taiwan with some of the products being sold in Europe.
Lin said Utah is getting plenty of attention in Taiwan, as evidenced by some articles in a magazine similar to America's National Geographic. Featured are the state's five national parks and other recreation areas that are popular with the Taiwanese who apparently want some "wide open space."
J. Andrew Johnson, international marketing specialist in the Utah International Trade Office, said with 22 million people jammed into an area one-third the size of Utah, the Taiwanese are looking for something vastly different than their homeland for vacations, and Utah fills the bill.
Johnson said the Taiwanese save 25 percent of their income and with the sudden impact of higher salaries in the country in the last two years, the Taiwanese are looking for places to spend their money.
In 1987, Utah companies shipped $30 million worth of products to Taiwan, mainly heavy machinery. But Johnson believes that as Utah exporters become more comfortable about exporting to Taiwan, computers and other electronic items will replace heavy machinery as the leading exported product to the island nation.