Taiwan: Getting stronger

Chinese Taipei - the official name of the national football team of the Republic of China (Taiwan) - has put in some heartening performances in the Asian Cup but is yet to make an impact on the world scene. With no professional league until this year and a men\'s squad made up mainly of amateurs, it\'s no surprise we have yet to reach the finals of a World Cup tournament.

But progress is being made as was clearly seen in the second qualifying round for Germany 2006. We scored four times. Despite losing all six matches including two narrow 1-0 defeats at the hands of group winner Uzbekistan and Palestine, the team is not deterred and we are already looking forward to the World Cup in 2010.

The property market too has been putting in a strong performance of late as we have seen property shares boom on the stock market and a general sense of optimism.

Last month, our stock exchange’s Construction Index soared 45%, outpacing the benchmark Weighted Price Index which had risen 14% to its highest level since late 2000. Many analysts and investors believe the Taiwanese property market has even more room to rise and that buying property stocks is a risk worth taking.

Unlike in the US and other markets where property prices have been consistently rising over a long period, Taiwan is still in the early phase of such a trend. Property prices in Taipei fell for a decade before bottoming in 2001 but since then average house prices have increased by 47%, including an encouraging 9% rise in the first quarter of this year.

The housing market in Taiwan rebounded due to growth in the country’s economy coupled with measures taken by the government to stimulate growth in the property sector. As a result of these factors, property prices increased in the second quarter of 2005 by 2.31% compared with the corresponding period the previous year. Today, 85% of people in Taiwan own homes.

The growth in Taiwan’s property and development sector comes a result of low interest mortgages and incremental land tax reduction. Low mortgage rates have made residential property affordable, leading to an increase in the number of buyers in the market. Taipei County had the highest price growth of 4.3% in the second quarter of 2005, followed by Taichung City with increases of 2.6%, Kaosiung City with 1.7%. Taipei itself ranked fourth with 1.53%.

The future for the Taiwanese property market looks positive. And with the establishment of a professional football team with four years to go before the next World Cup, Taiwan aims to put itself on the map in several ways.

Sarah Lin is marketing manager at GE Money (Taiwan)