CHICAGO — Taiwan exported $745 million worth of plastics and rubber machinery in 1996, a 10.3 percent increase over 1995.
Half of Taiwan's machinery exports go to mainland China and Hong Kong, according to the China External Trade Development Council (CETRA). Other major export markets include Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the United States.
In 1996, Taiwan exported $28.6 million worth of plastics and rubber machines to the United States.
The value of machines going the other direction, from the United States to Taiwan, was $17.8 million.
CETRA said Taiwan is the world's fifth-largest maker of plastics equipment.
The Taipei, Taiwan-based trade association released the statistics at NPE 1997, held June 16-20 in Chicago.
CETRA organized a Taiwan pavilion at the show, grouping 13 Taiwan machinery makers together in 4,000 square feet of exhibition space.
In plastics equipment, Taiwanese thermoforming machines made the biggest gain, as exports hit $31.2 million — nearly triple 1995 sales. Extruders reached $29.9 million, up 14 percent. Exports of injection molding machines grew 3.9 percent, to $207.3 million.
Meanwhile, plastics and rubber machinery imports into Taiwan fell 23.6 percent, to $210.4 million.
Taiwan's plastics and rubber machinery sector comprises about 250 manufacturers, according to Mike Chen, general manager of Sino-Alloy Machinery Inc., a manufacturer of twin-screw extruders in Taipei.
Most of the companies are fairly small, and they often work together in a loose framework of alliances, he said.
Chen said at the show that plastics machinery made in Taiwan costs about 40 percent of the price of U.S.-made machinery, and one-third the price of equipment from Japan and Germany.
Trade shows are a key part of CETRA's marketing campaign.
In addition to NPE, CETRA organizes Taiwan pavilions at the K shows in Germany, and at major exhibitions in Southeast Asia.
CETRA has an Internet site at http://www.tptaiwan.org.tw.