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.
A Keelung high school on Saturday night apologized for using a picture containing a Chinese flag on the cover of the senior yearbook, adding that it has recalled the books and pledged to provide students new ones before graduation on Thursday. Of 309 Affiliated Keelung Maritime Senior High School of National Taiwan Ocean University graduates, 248 had purchased the yearbook. Some students said that the printer committed an outrageous error in including the picture, while others said that nobody would notice such a small flag on the cover. Other students said that they cared more about the photographs of classmates and what was
GOING INTERNATIONAL: Rakuten Girls squad leader Ula Shen said she was surprised that baseball fans outside of Taiwan not only knew of them, but also knew their names Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Oakland Athletics on Saturday hosted its first Taiwanese Heritage Day event at the Oakland Coliseum with a performance by Taiwanese cheerleading squad the Rakuten Girls and a video message from Vice President William Lai (賴清德). The Rakuten Girls, who are the cheerleaders for the CPBL’s Rakuten Monkeys, performed in front of a crowd of more than 2,000 people, followed by a prerecorded address by Lai about Taiwan’s baseball culture and democratic spirit. Taiwanese pitcher Sha Tzu-chen (沙子宸), who was signed by the Athletics earlier this year, was also present. Mizuki Lin (林襄), considered a “baseball cheerleading goddess” by Taiwanese
WAY OF THE RUKAI: ‘Values deemed worthy often exist amid discomfort, so when people go against the flow, nature becomes entwined with our lives,’ a student said “Run, don’t walk” after your dreams, Nvidia cofounder and chief executive officer Jensen Huang (黃仁勳) told National Taiwan University (NTU) graduates yesterday, as several major universities held in-person graduation ceremonies for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. “What will you create? Whatever it is, run after it. Run, don’t walk. Remember, either you’re running for food, or you are running from becoming food. Oftentimes, you can’t tell which. Either way, run,” he said. Huang was one of several tech executives addressing graduating students at Taiwanese universities. National Chengchi University held two ceremonies, with alumnus Patrick Pan (潘先國), who is head of Taiwan
A 14-legged giant isopod is the highlight of a new dish at a ramen restaurant in Taipei and it has people lining up — both for pictures and for a bite from this bowl of noodles. Since “The Ramen Boy” launched the limited-edition noodle bowl on Monday last week, declaring in a social media post that it had “finally got this dream ingredient,” more than 100 people have joined a waiting list to dine at the restaurant. “It is so attractive because of its appearance — it looks very cute,” said the 37-year-old owner of the restaurant, who wanted to be