TAIWAN’S COMPETITIVE IDENTITY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

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Suwannarat Meesomboonpoonsuk

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The outlook for Southeast Asian market remains robust due to its large labor force and the growth in its middle-class consumers. Hence, Southeast Asia is targeted by Taiwan to present its competitiveness via its New Southbound Policy (NSP). Taiwan and Southeast Asia have engaged with each other significantly through the Southeast Asian immigrants since 1960s. Moreover, Taiwan becomes important to the global economy since the world depends largely on its chip manufacturing. However, Taiwan’s role in Southeast Asia is barely significant. In general, Southeast Asian consumers are not aware of Taiwan’s brands. In terms of destination for Southeast Asian tourists, expats, and students, Taiwan has not been as popular as Japan and South Korea yet. Based on Simon Anholt’s Competitive Identity (CI) approach, this research investigates Southeast Asian perceptions of Taiwan’s competitiveness in six realms; culture, investment, brands, policy, people, and tourism. It illustrates qualitatively that the positive perception of Taiwan’s Competitive Identity is greater than the negative one in every realm. Taiwan’s responsible investment, friendly people, accountability policy, fascinating tourism, popular culture, and good quality of products are perceived by the respondents. However, the lack of branding and promotion has limited the positive perception to the small group of people. Interestingly, Taiwan has potential for exporting its popular culture but One-China Policy and its unstable domestic politics are the two threats that it must stay cautious. Furthermore, these threats will unavoidably affect Southeast Asia.

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