Mr. Huang Kuo-jung, Representative of the Taipei Trade and Economic Representative Office in Ulaanbaatar gave an interview to our magazine, talking about current cooperation between Mongolia and Taiwan in the economic and trade spheres.
- Thank you for accepting our invitation for an interview Mr. Huang. First of all, we would like to know more about you. What did you do previously before coming to Mongolia?
- I came to Mongolia and took the office in December 2015. Two and half year have passed since I came here. I graduated from university, majoring in diplomacy, but my job and experience are little bit different from my profession. I worked as Deputy Mayor of Taichung City, the second largest city in Taiwan and was more engaged in urban development matters at that time.
- Can you tell us about the current stage of development of Mongolian-Taiwanese cooperation in the trade and economic sectors?
- The Taipei Trade and Economic Representative Office in Ulaanbaatar opened in September 2002. The following year, Mongolia opened its Representative Office in Taiwan, creating the potential for the sides to cooperate in many spheres. Since the Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association (CIECA) and the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) set up bilateral collaboration, the parties have been co-organising the annual Taiwan-Mongolia economic cooperation forum and meeting in Taipei and Ulaanbaatar.
During the Taiwan-Mongolia Economic Cooperation Forum held in May of this year, some 200 entrepreneurs discussed economic and business opportunities and set up partnership agreements. Moreover, Taiwanese companies regularly attend the Ulaanbaatar Partnership autumn international exhibition. Over 10 Taiwanese companies and enterprises intend to participate in this year’s exhibition to promote their products.
- Do Mongolian and Taiwanese entrepreneurs and enterprises have distinct advantages to complement each other? What are your thoughts about the best ways to boost the connection between them?
- Mongolia is rich in natural resources, while Taiwan has vast experience in production and sales of value-added goods. Moreover, the Mongolian government supports the development of SMEs, whereas Taiwan also has gained experience in advancing SMEs. I think they could be regarded as the complementary ties between us.
In 2017, the Taipei Trade and Economic Representative Office in Ulaanbaatar started activities to connect Taiwanese companies with their Mongolian counterparts in two main areas. First, we aim to promote financing loans granted by the Export–Import Bank of the Republic of China to entrepreneurs, to strengthen the capital and financial capabilities of the Mongolian market and to maximise the competitiveness of Taiwanese products. Second, we aspire to introduce an online business information complex service. Thus, the Representative Office has begun to provide dedicated business news to Taiwanese and Mongolian entrepreneurs and opened a new category on trade, economy and financing on the Representative Office’s website.
- SMEs have rapidly developed in Taiwan, whilst Mongolia needs to boost this sector. So, please share about your experience in reaching such rapid development of SMEs.
- Presently, SMEs account for 97 percent of all enterprises in Taiwan, and they are ‘True heroes behind the curtain’ who have become a generator of non-stop growth in the Taiwanese economy. The government of Taiwan set up a Division for SMEs at the Ministry of Economy in 1981, and then started a variety of activities and policies such as raising fiscal resources, developing human resources, performing technological reforms, increasing the value-add of goods, expanding markets, and developing and empowering SMEs.
- Do you have any proposals or point of views about making the Mongolian business environment more friendly towards and developing SMEs? Is there a secret behind the super success of Taiwanese SMEs?
- In my view, people are the most important resource for carrying out business. Taiwanese SMEs possess a culture of being loyal, flexible in business life, accurate and enjoy close interconnection and passion for learning new things. Throughout history, Taiwanese SMEs have gradually reached this level despite unstable conditions such as a high inflation rate, soaring wage and rental costs and severe problems in the banking sector. Thanks to overcoming these problems and challenges, the SME sector has been a great contributor to the stabilisation and development of the Taiwanese economy.
Mongolia has skilled staff and human resources. In recent years, over 1,000 Mongolians study in Taiwan every year. I hope that Mongolia can reach concrete achievements in the SME sector in a very short time if the country’s government carries out proper policies and undertakes certain activities such as improving access to finance, creating a business platform and cooperation network and gives support to the development of new products and generating sales.
- What are your predictions on the prospects of trade and economic ties between Taiwan and Mongolia?
- In addition to the industrial sector, agricultural and technological goods could be potential sectors in which Taiwan and Mongolia are able to cooperate. Since the Mongolian market is quite small, the country is not attracting the attention of Taiwanese businesspeople who have vast experience in the world business environment. I always say: “The larger the population a country has, the more competitive it is”. The bear is the symbolic animal of Taiwan, while the wolf is a sacred animal for Mongolians. When these two animals join together, making “B&W”, our entrepreneurs and businesspeople will succeed in producing various goods and entering the world market together.
- How are the Taiwan-Mongolia ties as well as the investment flows to Mongolia running today? Do you think the economic and business ties are widening?
- The collaboration in planting sea-buckthorn was the very first concrete result of the cooperation between Taiwanese and Mongolian companies. As of present, several Taiwanese companies started purchasing sea-buckthorn and products using the fruit as an ingredient from Mongolia. People all over the world tend to consume healthier and more ecological foods today, thus the sea-buckthorn grown in Mongolian soil could become one of the main fruit choices for healthy foods. So, I urge Mongolians to make together Mongolia a country of sea-buckthorn.
Besides sea-buckthorn, the number of Taiwanese companies who buy cashmere goods is rapidly growing, and the sales sector is highly developed in Taiwan. For this reason, Mongolian companies are able to sell their products through Taiwanese businesspeople. It might be the quickest way for Mongolians to penetrate the world market.
Investment could be a potential sphere for Taiwanese-Mongolian cooperation. An overflow of capital is happening in the Taiwanese market, which means that companies and entrepreneurs are desperately looking for places to invest. Gradual growth has been seen in the Mongolian economy, and the Taiwanese-Mongolian trade turnover is increasing as well. As of today, the sides are negotiating the implementation of joint mega-projects and programmes as Taiwanese enterprises are gaining a better understanding about the Mongolian market. Concrete results are expected in the near future.
- Please tell us about the outcomes of the Memorandum of Understanding established this year between the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) and the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA)?
- The MoU established between the two organisations mainly focuses on exchanges of professional staff and business information. It also includes some activities initiated by Mrs. Oyunchimeg, CEO of MNCCI. The functions and objectives of TAITRA and MNCCI are almost the same, so it is possible to learn from each other and to share information.
- What is your view about the trade turnover balance between Mongolia and Taiwan and ways to expand bilateral trade? Which products or services have the most potential?
- This is a very important issue. Mongolian businesspeople ask this question all the time. In recent times, the largest percentage of exported goods from Mongolia to Taiwan are still mining products. However, the range of Mongolian export products are increasing, namely cashmere goods.
- We know Taiwan has been investing in many countries in various spheres. Which activities are currently being undertaken by the Taiwanese Representative Office in Ulaanbaatar to attract Taiwanese companies to invest in Mongolia? How many enterprises or individuals have invested in Mongolia so far?
- Investment is usually made after a specific stage of development of collaboration in commerce. Opportunities are generally realised when the parties have achieved a good mutual understanding. The Representative Office in Ulaanbaatar is focusing our attention on harmonising our economic and commercial actions with the credit given by the Export–Import Bank of the Republic of China. By doing so, the sides will maximize the turnover and investments from Taiwan in Mongolia. For the time being, Taiwanese companies are investing Mongolia in tourism, hotel, medical equipment, energy, fertilizers and mining.
- What measures are being taken to promote Mongolia in Taiwan and Taiwan in Mongolia? How many Taiwanese tourists visit Mongolia every year?
- The Governments of Taiwan and Mongolia pay special attention to the tourism industry. We organise the Taipei International Tourism Exhibition annually with the purpose of joining both Taiwanese and Mongolian entrepreneurs together and to boost cooperation in the tourism industry. During this event, we provide the Mongolian side with a pavilion for free. Last year’s exhibition ran under the theme “Nomadic Mongolia in a Virgin Landscape”. This attracted many Taiwanese people and businessmen. In addition, the Representative Office is promoting new tourism products and services introduced by Taiwanese companies.
This year’s Ulaanbaatar international marathon was attended by over 260 runners from Taiwan, and I hope the number of Taiwanese tourists to Mongolia will exceed 6,000 in 2018. According to the latest statistics by the Fodor’s travel guide, Mongolia has been selected as one of the best tourism destinations in Asia with Taipei city among 52 places. It means the Mongolian blue sky and beautiful blue beaches in Taiwan attract the attention of world tourists.
- Thank you for the interview.
Source: Invest Pro Mongolia #3 (2018)