Sun, Jan 08, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Improve branding, UK says

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan should improve its "made in Taiwan" branding worldwide to symbolize not only nationhood but also quality, British parliamentarians said last week in Taipei.

Lord David Steel, vice chairman of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, said Taiwan's image in the UK is not strong enough and there is still room for improvement.

"Unlike some other countries, Taiwan doesn't do such a good job of branding itself through the goods that we import in such large numbers, such as television sets, PCs, bicycles and mobile phones. While the Japanese products all say `made in Japan,' the Taiwanese products do not [say `made in Taiwan']. There is room for the improvement of the profile of Taiwan in Britain," Steel said.

"You've got the quality. It's something you should be extolling, not concealing," he said.

Steel, who was in Taipei last week with the 15-member parliamentarian group for a five-day visit, made the comments on Wednesday in a meeting with the local press.

The group met with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and officials in the defense, economic and foreign ministries to exchange views on issues of mutual concern, including the way Taiwan is branded in the UK and other Western markets.

Lord Faulkner, co-chair of the group said: "We've suggested there should be a re-examination of the way in which Taiwan is branded in Western markets. The fact that you're selling goods of such high quality, it should be in your interest for them to be clearly branded `made in Taiwan.' It's a very strong selling point."

Taiwan's representative to the UK, Edgar Lin (林俊義), who accompanied the group on their visit to Taipei, said that economic ministry officials had explained to the British parliamentarians that one of the reasons for this was that many Taiwanese information technology (IT) products are produced on an OEM basis, and therefore big companies such as HP, Compaq or Dell wouldn't want to see Taiwan have its own name brands to compete with them.

"It's not because we don't have confidence in our products, it's because of external pressures from these big companies," Lin said.

He said it wasn't until 1985 that Taiwanese companies started to come up with their own brands such as Acer and BenQ, which are now popular in Europe.

Faulkner added that during the group's meeting with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, one of his colleagues suggested that Taiwan put the national flag on all of its products to symbolize not only nationhood but also confidence in the quality of the products made in Taiwan.

Commenting on UK-Taiwan relations, Faulkner said one weakness is the "China-first" policy the British government subscribes to, which has made it difficult for high-level officials of both governments to visit each other.

While stressing the importance of the Chinese market to the British economy, which has informed the UK's China policy, Faulkner said it is his parliamentary group's job to bring issues such as human rights and the military threats China poses to Taiwan to the British government's attention to allow for a broader picture of the region.

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