Taiwan’s upbeat economy

It might not be the right time to compare economic conditions in Asia today to those we’ve seen in the U.S. for the past several months. But being in Taiwan this week, it feels like the general mood of business seems to be “Recession? What recession?”
The recovery in the U.S. seems to be advancing, but it still seems wise to hedge that comment instead of simply saying that the recovery IS advancing. In visits to two companies in Taipei, executives are talking about solid growth during 2008 and fair expectations in 2009.
That’s especially surprising since both see solid growth in the automotive industry, which hasn’t exactly been a bright spot for the U.S. economy. Micro Star International plans to grow its automotive infotainment segment from 2% of revenues this year to 10% in 2010, offering systems that play movies and other video on multiple screens.
LiFeTech Inc. is building new facilities to gear up for strong growth of its lithium ion batteries, which use an iron additive to provide the quick starts needed by electric vehicles. The Taiwan External Trade Development Council is planning to bolster its extensive trade show calendar with a show dedicated to LEDs.
There isn’t any feeling of euphoria at the companies I’ve visited – MSI said it expects flat revenues in 2009 after 12% growth this year, with little expansion in its mainstay PC business. But there’s certainly more of a feeling of optimism here than I’ve seen at U.S. companies over the past year or two.
This optimism could well be driven by something simple: companies inviting international journalists to visit probably aren’t usually struggling to keep the lights on. But my extremely limited poll of companies seems to say that in this part of Asia, signs of recession are pretty limited.

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