"Made in Taiwan." Those three words represent everything from America's decline as a manufacturing powerhouse, to Asia's economic rise, to the explosion of cheap consumer culture, to China's new pride seen in "Made by Chinese" movements, to China and Taiwan's long-running war, now fought via "Made in..." proxy.
So just what does "Made in Taiwan" mean today?
Manufacturing for export took Taiwan from one of the world's poorest places to one of the wealthiest. But now Taiwan has been identified as one economy that is suffering most from the global recession. The nation's exports, accounting for around 70 percent of the economy, fell 41% last December and 44% the month after that.
One irony is the circle of manufacturing life. Taiwan is losing its work to cheaper, less regulated in the region. Hakuna Mattata, Taiwan.
Another irony is that much of what Taiwan makes is finished in China resulting in a "Made in China" tag. Not that the "Made in China" brand hasn't taken a severe beating in the last few years. But this new relationship might also be helping normalize relations between the long-opposed "Made in..." nations.
As the Globe and Mail astutely points out, despite years of dominance as Asia's "Made in..." capital, Taiwan was very unsuccessful in producing many recognizable Taiwanese brand names. Yet there are a few, like Taiwan's Luxgen auto brand. The brand's parent, Yulon Group, has invested a reported $615 million to create a successful Taiwanese auto brand. It's a second try. Of the brand's models, due out later this year, president of Luxgen, K.C. Hu, said:
The new nameplate on the international automobile market is sure to become a big name that stresses product quality and safety. All of our models will be tested to the world`s most stringent safety standards under the most challenging environments.
Luxgen, despite a name that sounds like a failed luxury goods website for Gen Y, does have a shot. The brand is releasing electric vehicles and, if successful, might redefine "Made in Taiwan" for the next-gen.