Taipei, Taiwan — Taiwan's large plastics and rubber machinery industry has seen exports drop by more than 10 percent since the beginning of 2015, as the slowdown in mainland China has taken a significant toll on the sector.
While China's difficulties were acting as a drag, it wasn't all bad news — Taiwan's industry reported a significant increase in plastics machinery exports to the United States, which officials attributed to strength in manufacturing there.
At an Aug. 12 news conference on the opening day of the Taipei Plas show, industry officials released statistics that point to struggles for Taiwan's industry.
Plastics and rubber machinery exports for 2015 fell more than 10 percent, to $1.12 billion, and that trend continued through the first half of this year, with exports down a further 11 percent from what was already a tough 2015.
But there is some early evidence that things are turning around.
Alan Wang, chairman of the plastics and rubber machinery committee of the Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry, said that based on recent orders, officials believe the second half of the year will bring the industry back to growth.
Beyond the drop in exports to mainland China, Wang said the industry has been hurt by problems in the electronics and computer manufacturing industries, which are significant customers for Taiwan's plastics industry.
Exports to China, which is Taiwan's largest market, plummeted 37 percent in 2015, to $222 million. That almost single-handedly accounted for Taiwan's global drop last year.
Executives said Taiwanese manufacturers have been trying to diversify into other markets, including Southeast Asia. Vietnam is Taiwan's second-largest plastics machinery export market, and shipments there rose 14 percent in 2015, to $122 million.