Although Taiwan's opto-electronics production value rose only a moderate 10.7 percent in 2001 to NT$442.8 billion, lower than its pace in previous years, the growth was good in comparison with Taiwan's other industries.
The Taiwan Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers Association attributes this expansion during a worldwide economic slowdown to the relatively high growth of the island's rewriteable compact disk (CD-RW) drive and digital-camera segments, as well as the production of large-size thin-film transistor liquid-crystal displays (TFT-LCDs) and opto-communications passive devices.
Nearly half of the island's opto-electronics production value comes from the opto-information segment, which comprises opto-storage, opto-input and opto-output devices, according to the association. Behind the fact is the widespread usage of the Internet and brisk growth of the multimedia industry.
In 2001, the top 10 segments of Taiwan's opto-electronics industry, by value, were TFT-LCDs, recordable compact disks (CD-Rs), read-only memory compact-disk drives, super twisted nematic LCDs (STN-LCDs), rewriteable compact disk (CD-RW) drives, scanners, digital cameras, overhead projectors, light emitting diodes (LEDs) and read-only-memory digital video disk players.
In the opto-input segment, high-definition digital cameras have replaced scanners. Many of the island's digital-camera manufacturers have shifted to production of cameras with definition better than 1.3 million pixels.
The opto-communications and opto-application segments account for a relatively small portion of Taiwan's opto-electronics production. They are in the start-up stage, and posted 29.6 percent growth in 2001 thanks to the involvement of many new entrants.
Taiwan's opto-communications production is forecast to rise 43.2 percent, to NT$20.3 billion, this year, from NT$14.2 billion in 2001, which constituted 1.13 percent of total global turnover.
Separately, the Industrial Technology Information Service (ITIS) earlier issued a forecast indicating that Taiwan's opto-communications industry will report a compound annual growth rate of 58 percent over the next five years, much higher than the projected 25 percent for the global industry.
ITIS is a Taiwan government-backed industrial service program. The program's research fellows point out that the local opto-communications industry will grow 27.6 percent from 2001 to reach NT$14.2 billion (US$417.64 million) this year in spite of the global business downturn. The unit said that thin-film filter (TFF) and transceiver sectors will become the major force in the industry's growth this year.
Nevertheless, Taiwan's opto-communications industry will represent only 1.13 percent of world production value this year, suggesting ample room for the local industry to grow.
ITIS said that although connectors and couplers still make up the major part of the passive electronic component value, TFF has soared to represent one third of the value.
The unit estimates that Taiwan's opto-communications industry will likely grow 43 percent next year as many domestic manufacturers will begin commercial production of new products. (NT$34.01 = US$1)