The role of the US in global trade orders

Colley Hwang; Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia 0


The "globalization era" should be counted from the 1960s, when Japan and the Four Asian Tigers created a rare economic miracle by developing their industries one after another, as described by the "flying geese" theory. The period between the collapse of the USSR in 1990 and before the 2008 Beijing Olympics can be considered the golden years of "globalization."

China stunned the world by demonstrating its prosperity in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The following year, it overtook Japan as the second-largest economy in gross domestic product (GDP). Unicorn startups such as Alibaba and Tencent emerged to become e-commerce and mobile applications giants, thanks to the fertile grounds provided by the 1 billion people market. The government's aggressive investments in infrastructure provided Huawei the chance to prosper, while the construction of 40,000 kilometers of high-speed railway as of 2023 became a miracle in modern history.

China has become conceited and has begun to say that "the Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate two powerful countries - China and America." Seeing China exerting power to control the South China Sea, the Eastern China Sea, and the Yellow Sea, the US started to have second thoughts about China's development.

Shape new orders, let competitors follow

World powers face international relations (or division of labor among countries) with a hegemonic mentality. The Plaza Accord of 1985 and the US-Japan Semiconductor Agreement broke the old framework and allowed Taiwan and South Korea to take advantage of it.

With a new international order taking shape, we can see the role of the US in the US-China trade war from the supply side and the demand side, and we can also try to consider and formulate Taiwan's strategy, taking the responses of Japanese politicians as references.

Akira Amari, a member of the Japanese House of Representatives and former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, said Japan must understand the influence of the semiconductor industry from the supply side, and Taiwan happens to be the country that has the supply-side advantages in the semiconductor industry. But do our society, the media, and politicians truly understand the advantages and effects of the supply side?

Define risks and request compliance

Networking equipment, servers, advanced chips, semiconductor equipment, and even the future vehicle-to-vehicle network and electric vehicles are all carriers susceptible to cyberattacks and cyber espionage.

How does Taiwan understand the rules and select its strategy in the new era? The US Department of Commerce insists that Nvidia chips must be restricted. Is it feasible for Nvidia to design chips specifically for the Chinese market? Or is it just a gesture to appease the capital market and the US government?

For Taiwan, from the beginning of original equipment manufacturing (OEM) to the supply chain and towards the entire value chain in the future, the evolution process has been rewarding, diverse, and full of challenges. Companies must know how to motivate the best talent to continue contributing to their future growth.

Colley Hwang, president of DIGITIMES Asia, is a tech industry analyst with more than three decades of experience under his belt. He has written several books about the trends and developments of the tech industry, including Asian Edge: On the Frontline of the ICT World published in 2019, and Disconnected ICT Supply Chain: New Power Plays Unfolding published in 2020.