Exporting goods to an international market like Taiwan can be a fantastic way to build your brand overseas. This guide provides helpful information to prepare your business for export.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Taiwan is the 9th largest market for Australian exports. Major exports include coal, iron and copper ores and aluminium.
Before you get started with this guide, it may be helpful to understand more about export costs and what it takes for your business to start exporting. Our guide to exporting from Australia is a great starting point to get your business ready to export.
There’s also lots of fantastic advice for exporting to Taiwan here.
In this guide we’ll cover:
- Finding the right products to export to Taiwan.
- Understanding the types of products you can (and can’t) export.
- The best ways to export products to Taiwan.
- Costs to export containers from Australia to Taiwan.
- Understanding licenses for exporting to Taiwan.
- Export and import duty, tariffs, and taxes.
- Getting paid in foreign currency
Finding the right products to export to Taiwan
When exporting products to Taiwan, it’s important to understand that the country has access to a large variety of low costs goods manufactured in China. If you are trying to penetrate that market, it can be fairly difficult to sell your products for a profit.
Avoid produce and perishable goods — Food and produce are very expensive to export, since you need specialized shipping. Additionally, food exports are subject to strict criteria, so you’re best off avoiding them altogether.
Avoid mass-produced, cheap goods — Taiwan imports so many of these types of goods from China, you’re never going to compete when you factor in the costs of manufacturing and logistics.
Do your market research — Ruten and Taobao, both enormous online marketplaces, have a huge presence in Taiwan — You can certainly sell through these marketplaces, and they’re a good place to start when it comes to market research. Additionally, look into specialized market reports on what sells in Taiwan.
Aim at unique products — Ideally, you’ll want to provide “unique” items that aren’t produced domestically in Taiwan. These can be lifestyle goods and aspirational products, often with a strong aesthetic. Think clothes, furniture, cars, electronics, accessories, and designer items.
Understand your margins and pricing — Exporting can eat into your margins — Make sure you’ve got a rock-solid understanding of all your costs and the price you want to sell at, and account for exchange rates to make sure you can still turn a profit.
Understanding the types of products you can and can’t export to Taiwan
Both Australia and Taiwan have limitations on what you can export and import.
Australia export restrictions
The Australian authorities prevent or restrict goods like some chemicals, biological materials, pharmaceuticals, animal and plant species, weapons, and more from export. You can find a complete list here. You should also learn what Australian Customs needs from you if you want to export.
Taiwan import restrictions
Controlled imports include narcotics, pronography, any piblication propagating communism, gambling articles, soil, plants and animal products from certain countries, fresh fruits, weapons and ammunition and more.
The best ways to export products to Taiwan
Getting your products into Taiwan requires a fair bit of planning, applications for permits and arrangements. If it’s your first time exporting to Taiwan, it’s advisable to hire someone with experience in that area. Here is an overview of the exportation process:
You manufacture or purchase the items domestically, in Australia OR you manufacture them elsewhere and arrange for shipping from there to Taiwan.
You understand the various regulations, tariffs, and licenses you need to export.
You arrange for international shipping from the point of origin to Taiwan— For larger items and big quantities, you will typically use container cargo, for smaller quantities, you might use an international shipper like FedEx.
On arrival of your goods in Taiwan you pay the necessary duty, tariffs, and any other fees.
You arrange for your goods to be held on your behalf in Taiwan.
You market your goods for sale in Taiwan, often through a retail store, third-party marketplace, ecommerce website, or some other outlet.
You sell your goods and arrange for them to be sent to your customers.
You get paid and transfer your money back to Australia.
You pay any necessary local taxes in Taiwan and Australia.
Typical container costs — Shipping from Australia to Taiwan
International shipping might not be as expensive as you think. According to the Sea Freight Calculator, the cost of renting a full container to ship goods from Australia to Taiwan is approximately:
- 20 ft container — $1,300 USD
- 40 ft container — $1,700 USD
And according to Australia Trade, renting part of a container will cost you between $150 and $250 AUD per cubic meter or 1,000 kilos, whichever is greater.
Remember that these are only shipping costs — The cost of actually having your goods freighted from one port to another. They don’t include costs involved in getting your goods to a warehouse, insurance, duties, and other fees. Make sure you understand your total logistics costs so you can factor them into your pricing.
We’d advise you to compare a number of quotes from shipping companies and suppliers based on the type and quantity of goods you want to export.
Understanding licenses for exporting to Taiwan
The documents required to clear customs depend on the product you are exporting to Taiwan. These documents include: pro-forma invoice, bill of lading / airway bill, packing list, certificate of origin, public health requirements, censorship regulations.
Note that the rules and regulations around importing and exporting to and from Taiwan do change from time to time. Make sure you check with official sources to ensure you’ve always got the latest information.
Export and import tariffs, duties, and taxes for Taiwan
Here are some estimates for the typical fees you’ll need to pay to import goods into Taiwan. You typically won’t have to pay goods and services tax to Australian authorities for exporting from the country, although you may need to pay some processing fees.
In Taiwan, you’ll likely have to pay the following:
Duty Rate — 0% to 30%, depending on the goods imported. The average rate is estimated to be around 4.2%.
As you can see, there is some work involved in exporting to Taiwan, but if you’ve already made good inroads into the Australian domestic market, it can be a great next step. Make sure you do your research, understand what you’re getting into, and plan carefully. Then you’ll be ready to launch, and sell your products.
Getting paid in foreign currency
Taiwanese businesses will typically pay you in US dollars or New Taiwan dollars.
If you are exporting goods to Taiwan, consider using the TransferWise Borderless Account.
Until recently, Australian businesses had 3 options to receive money from overseas customers:
- Get paid into a local Australian based, Australian dollar account.
- Open a Foreign Currency Account, usually with a bank
- Use a payment gateway like PayPal, Braintree or Stripe
Unfortunately, these options are usually filled with fees, balance requirements or massive exchange rate mark-ups.
In October 2017, TransferWise released the Borderless account in Australia and it’s really impressive. It allows you to receive, hold and transfer 27 different currencies.
The unique feature though, which is particuarly useful for businesses, is the ability to have local bank account details in USD, EUR, GBP or AUD. This makes receiving money from customer abroad, exceptionally ease.
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