Australian Office

Sidney Chen

Many people might already know, Australia and Taiwan have cooperated closely to fight the COVID pandemic, providing each other with vital raw materials and protective equipment, including alcohol from Australia to use in hand sanitizer. But probably not many realise the applications of ethanol range from drink supplements to the extraction of reishi mushrooms and even high-tech manufacturing, which have all helped Australia to become Taiwan’s second-largest source of ethanol. This week’s '40 Years, 40 Stories' brings you the planner and executor of this important cooperation between Australia and Taiwan - Sidney Chen, Country Manager of Manildra Group Taiwan. Here is his story:


At the beginning of 2020, when the pandemic first broke out, sensing that the situation might take a turn for the worse, I said to a Taiwanese client who produced disinfectant alcohol: ‘This may not turn out well, you might want to place more orders in advance.’ A few weeks later, two of Manildra’s important clients in Taiwan – both state-owned enterprises producing alcohol – contacted me, hoping to increase the shipment of ethanol in preparation for the looming pandemic. At first, increasing shipments to Taiwan was not a problem, but as the outbreak spread around the world, the pressure came. Fortunately, Taiwan has long been an important market for Manildra. Since Manildra established a foothold in Taiwan in 2015, its performance has grown by leaps and bounds. When the pandemic in Taiwan was at its worst, the headquarters did not hesitate to help and, like a faucet turned on all the way, continued to provide the alcohol necessary for Taiwan’s epidemic prevention needs.

The application of ethanol is wider than what most people would think. In addition to epidemic prevention, some cooking rice wine and nutritional supplement drinks also use our food-grade alcohol. In the food industry, it is also needed in the manufacture of soy sauce, vinegar, pickled cucumber, and miso. The extraction of reishi mushroom also relies on alcohol. But what may come as a bigger surprise is that alcohol is also used in Taiwan's high-tech industry: it is often used in the manufacturing process of multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCC, an essential component of smartphones, automobiles and electronic equipment) and LCDs to clean precision instruments.

Australia is an important source of ethanol for Taiwan. In terms of undenatured ethanol, which is the most in demand, Australia exported 14 million kilograms to Taiwan in 2021, making it Taiwan's second largest importer after Pakistan.

Manildra is optimistic about the prospects of Taiwan and hopes to take root in Taiwan. We have leased two 2-million litre storage tanks in Kaohsiung Port, which are expected to be completed by the second quarter of next year. In the future, the import and dispatch of Australian alcohol to Taiwan will be much more convenient.

Having worked in Taiwan-Australia trade for nearly thirty years, I’m very pleased to see the steady growth in bilateral trade relations. Especially in recent years, with the epidemic and various challenges, the bilateral economic and trade partnership has only grown closer. Indeed, the epidemic has built a bridge of friendship. I’m confident that Taiwan and Australia will continue to work together and move towards a future of shared prosperity.