The nation’s furniture industry has suffered substantial financial losses after several international furniture manufacturers entered and started dominating the market. The signing of the cross-strait service trade agreement would only compound its suffering by allowing more competitors into the already saturated sector, industry representatives said yesterday.
New Taipei City Furniture Commerce Association chairman Chien Lung-fu (簡隆富) said there used to be up to 700 furniture manufacturers and retailers in the city in the industry’s heyday, which ended about a decade ago when many Taiwanese businesspeople started investing in Chinese furniture makers and importing their low-cost products to Taiwan.
“At that time, the majority of consumers had little knowledge of the differences between furniture manufactured locally and those made in China. All they knew was that there was no need to spend extra money on a locally produced sofa when there were cheaper options [from China],” Chien said.
Chien said the import of furniture made in China dealt the industry a serious blow and that the adverse effects it brought did not ease up until the public learned the hard way that home furnishings from China, however inexpensive they were, were often crudely made.
However, because of the economic downturn in recent years, the number of furniture sellers in the city has been cut in half, Chien said, adding that despite the surge in house prices, most homes were bought by property speculators and were therefore left empty and unfurnished.
Former chairman of the association, Tu Jung-li (塗榮立), who is also the president of a 20-year-old Taiwanese furniture brand, said the word “misery” best encapsulated the predicaments faced by the industry in recent years.
“Due to the difficulties in acquiring land and the rising costs of hiring domestic workers, many Taiwanese furniture makers have moved their businesses to China,” Tu said.
To make matters worse, the government has signed a treaty that will open up the industry to Chinese investors, Tu said, allowing them to integrate production and marketing of furniture and squeeze local proprietors’ market shares.
“The industry has hit rock bottom and signing the service trade deal is like adding salt to an already festering wound,” Tu added.
Tu said local furniture chains and businesses that provided furnishings for hotels were expected to suffer most from the agreement, as newly built hotels might shift their furniture orders from Taiwanese manufacturers to Chinese makers after the latter are permitted to manufacture and sell their products in Taiwan without having to worry about shipping costs.
“Neither small furniture makers nor large furniture chains would be able to withstand the fierce competition once Chinese investors are allowed to open furniture retail stores across Taiwan,” Tu said.
Since the government signed the pact with China on June 21 without any prior consultations with the sectors potentially affected by the treaty, it should draw up complementary measures to help local businesses ride out the crisis.
Under the cross-strait agreement, which needs to be ratified by the Legislative Yuan before it can take effect, 64 Taiwanese sub-sectors would be opened up to Chinese investment, including transportation, tourism and traditional Chinese medicine.
Meanwhile, China would open 80 sub-sectors to Taiwan.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said that a surge in respiratory illnesses in China has been caused by at least seven types of pathogens, and small children, elderly people and immunocompromised people should temporarily avoid unnecessary visits to China. The recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses in China is mainly in the north and among children, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said on Monday. Data released by the Chinese National Health Commission on Sunday showed that among children aged one to four, the main pathogens were influenza viruses and rhinoviruses, while among children aged five to 14, the main pathogens
A New Taipei City hotpot restaurant could be fined after a rat dropped from the ceiling and landed on a customer’s plate last week, the New Taipei City Department of Health said yesterday after conducting an inspection. A woman recently posted on the “I am a Banciao resident” (我是板橋人) social media group saying that she had been eating with a friend at Chien Tu Shabu Shabu Hotpot Restaurant’s Shuangshi B branch in Banciao District (板橋). “While still eating, a big rat suddenly dropped down from the ceiling, landing on a plate next to a hotpot,” she said. “Later on, a member of
A new poll of Taiwanese voters found the top opposition candidate for president jumping past the ruling party’s hopeful into the lead position ahead of January’s election — the latest twist in a drama-filled race. Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) had an approval rating of 31.9 percent versus 29.2 percent for the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate Vice President William Lai (賴清德), the poll released yesterday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation showed. The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), ranked third with 23.6 percent, according to the survey conducted
Actress Hu Ling (胡伶) on Saturday became the first Chinese movie star to walk the red carpet of the Golden Horse Awards since 2019, when China boycotted Taiwan’s biggest awards show over political tensions. Beijing banned its entertainers from joining the awards, dubbed the Chinese-language Oscars, after documentary director Fu Yu (傅榆) voiced support for Taiwan’s formal independence in an acceptance speech in 2018. There were no films from China in the 2019 nomination list and several Hong Kong movies dropped out that year, while several big commercial productions were conspicuously absent at both the 2020 and 2021 awards. However, Hu, nominated for