Taiwan and South Korea expand tech influence as US-China trade war drags on

With the United States and China still locked in a trade battle, non-Chinese tech companies in Asia are looking to seize on the opportunity and expand their influence in the tech industry.

That maneuvering was on display at the Consumer Electronics Show this past week, one of the world’s largest consumer technology trade shows where more than 4,500 companies put their latest innovations on display to impress the more than 175,000 attendees and to land deals with major retailers such as Walmart.

Participation by Chinese companies was down slightly, while Taiwan’s presence grew significantly according to the Consumer Technology Association, the group behind CES.

Participation by companies from Taiwan, South Korea and Japan was up 23%, 20% and 11% respectively. Thailand sent its first ever delegation, which consisted of seven start-ups.

Taiwan, a leader in the semiconductor and computer chip business, is already seeing some benefits from the U.S.-China trade dispute according to Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Yu-chin Hsu. Increased costs due to tariffs have pushed some Taiwanese companies to move manufacturing back to Taiwan from mainland China.

“So the companies when they’re moving back, now there is more manufacturing in Taiwan,” Dr. Hsu said while attending CES. “You know, when you have more manufacturers in Taiwan, you look in the future, the start-up, the A.I., IoT industry, it’s much, much easier to do the whole integration by integrating the applications, the software and hardware together.”

Like those from Taiwan, South Korean firms also turned out to CES in larger numbers, up 20% from last year with 294 total companies. Seoul Mayor Won-soon Park, a keynote speaker at CES 2020, pointed to Seoul’s central location in Asia as a driver for interest from American firms.

“Seoul has more than 30 cities with more than 5 million population within two hours, so that is the reason why there are so many U.S. or Western companies coming to Seoul,” said Mayor Park.

While participation from its neighbors was up, the total size of exhibit space occupied by Chinese companies was down almost 6% year over year. The CTA declined to provide numbers on how many Chinese companies participated in either 2019 or 2020.

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