Newteks is an import-export company, focused primarily on exporting Taiwanese goods to overseas markets, and providing representation for overseas customers in Taiwan.
A large portion of Mr Park’s business consists of exporting Taiwan-made synthetic textiles – including fibres, yarns, and fabrics – to Korean customers in Central and South America (Mexico, Panama, Peru & Chile), Korea, Sri Lanka, and Egypt. He has an annual turnover of around US$12 million.
Mr Park, the President of Newteks, originates from South Korean. He has been in Taiwan since October 1995. After years of experience working with the Korean Government and large Korean corporations such as Hyundai, Daiwoo, and SK, he decided to start his own trading business in 2001.
Trade opportunities between Taiwan and Korea: The number of Koreans in Taiwan has reduced over the years as more and more Koreans move to Mainland China. However, business volume between the two countries is increasing, bringing with it many import/export opportunities between the two countries. To Koreans, Taiwan is an unfamiliar place. Mr Park acts as a contact in Taiwan for his Korean business acquaintances. He is a person they can trust. Koreans prefer to do business with people they know.
Why Taiwan: Mr Park agrees that Taiwan is a great place to do business. There is economic freedom, the price and quality of manufactured products is reasonable, and Taiwan is geographically well place, being near to China and Korea. Moreover, Taiwanese are very practical when it comes to business. Mr Park will approach manufacturers for prices and samples, and finds them very receptive to small business. This is in contrast to Korea where manufacturers may look down upon small business. It is primarily for this reason that Mr Park has decided to stay in Taiwan and develop his business.
Taiwan’s major advantage over Korea for SMEs: Employees. Employees in both Taiwan and Korea are well-educated and productive. But in Korea, the salary for the average graduate is a lot higher than it is in Taiwan (around NTD$60,000 vs. NTD$25,000). Korean worker unions are also very strong. Strikes and demonstrations are common-place. This is not the case in Taiwan.
On learning Mandarin: Mr Park believes that it is very important to learn Mandarin. He is in personal contact with the manufacturers, with whom he communicates using Mandarin.
Mr Park requires his employees to speak Korean in order to be in contact with his overseas Korean buyers. He has had a difficult time finding employees in Taiwan who are proficient enough in Korean. In the past, he has relied on graduates of the Korean language departments at Taiwanese universities to fill roles within his business. Note that this may be the same for other major world languages besides English and Japanese. For instance, it will be difficult to find Taiwanese proficient in Spanish, Russian, German, French, Arabic, etc.
On Banking: Mr Park has had great difficulty in getting loans and letters of credit as he does not own any property in Taiwan. In particular, letters of credit are very important for a trader such as Mr Park, who is required to export goods of significant value. Starting out, it was almost impossible to obtain a letter of credit. Later, Mr Park was able to obtain letters of credit, but only after having provided a lot of documentation relating to his business records and bank account balances.
Being chased by the mafia: Mr Park once bought products from Company A. Company A sourced the materials from Company B. Company A went bankrupt, and owed Company B money. Company B asked Mr Park to pay what was owed to them from Company A. Mr Park had no legal relationship with Company B, so he rightfully refused to pay. Company B then sent gangsters to Mr Park’s office to menace him in an effort to force him to pay. Mr Park stuck to his guns, and refused to be intimidated. Mr Park’s friend recommended that he employ his own gangsters, and attempt to negotiate a settlement. Mr Park refused to get involved. Later, Company B’s lawyer sent a letter of demand to Mr Park. Mr Park sent a letter to the lawyer explaining the situation. In the end, Company B backed down. Mr Park – by sticking to his guns & keeping his hands clean – eventually got his way.
Advice: Mr Park urges prospective entrepreneurs in Taiwan to seriously consider the industry and prospective market before starting a business. Initially, Mr Park was involved in selling set top boxes & petrochemicals to Korea, but failed. It was only later – upon recommendation of his overseas Korean acquaintances – that he got involved in selling synthetic textiles. Generally, once you know you have a market for a product or service, it’s relatively easy to find/develop that product/service. He has had success as acting as an agent in Taiwan for his Korean buyers. Selling to the market you are familiar with may be easier than selling to the Taiwanese market.
Contact Newteks Co., Ltd.:
Tel: +886(2)2585 5628