Exports of contact lenses from Taiwan last year hit a record US$434.1 million, surging 19.8 percent year-on-year and seeing double-digit percentage growth for 11 years in a row, the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Department of Statistics said yesterday.
In the first half of this year, exports rose 6.2 percent to US$220 million, the department said.
The popularity of disposable contact lenses over the past few years has been the primary driver of the boom, the department said, adding that locally made lenses are somewhat cheaper than those manufactured in Europe and the US.
Direct exports of contact lenses last year made up 76.6 percent of total shipments, with Japan continuing as Taiwan’s largest market and making up 59.3 percent, or US$257.2 million, of total exports, the department said.
The percentage of contact lenses exported to Japan rose to 63.6 percent in the first six months of this year, it said.
Conversely, for Japan, Taiwanese imports of contact lenses ranked the second biggest with US$258.9 million last year, after Ireland with US$594.1 million, the department said.
Exports to China last year increased 41.5 percent to US$102.2 million, while those to Europe rose 46 percent to US$35.8 million and those to the US rose 32.7 percent to US$27.7 million, it said.
Contact lenses last year made up 68.3 percent of the local eyewear industry’s annual output of NT$43 billion (US$1.38 billion) and acted as the industry’s main growth driver, the department added.
Investment rose, as research and development more than doubled from NT$310 million in 2010 to NT$680 million in 2017, it said.
The purchase of local fixed assets (excluding land) in the industry grew 3.79 percent to NT$5.02 billion in 2017, with such purchases expected to increase as Taiwanese eyewear companies return home and invest in the nation, the department said.
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