Taiwan is dwarfed by China - in size, population and economic output - but as China's economy goes though a rough patch, Taiwan's economy is expected to grow 3.5 percent.
Outside, it's 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) and 70 percent humidity - springtime in Taiwan. Siemens manager, Kernel Wang, is glad once he reaches the air-conditioned lobby of the Farglory building in the heart of the capital, Taipei.
He even has a professional interest in the air conditioning running smoothly because Siemens built the automated climate control system in the skyscraper, which serves as the headquarters of Taiwan's largest real estate company. Sensors throughout the building ensure that the temperature always remains comfortable, while saving energy.
Service and quality above all else
The climate system is brand new and still has a few hiccups. A monitor in the control room indicates a temperature of just 21 degrees Celsius (70 Fahrenheit) on the 30th floor - too cold - and humidity of 60 percent - too high. "Ideally, it should be between 23 and 25 degrees and 55 percent humidity," explains Wang. "I'm sending our technical team over to do a little fine tuning on the software."
This service, in addition to the usual high quality, is the main reason why German firms are doing so well in Taiwan, even though they are usually more expensive than their Asian competitors. "We provide complete solutions," emphasizes Erdal Elver, CEO of Siemens Taiwan. "There's no point in just providing equipment which the customers then have to assemble themselves."
More than 10 percent of revenues at Siemens Taiwan are earned with automated building systems. This is a market with a future because energy prices are rising and the Taipei government is pushing for all new buildings to have improved energy efficiency.
When bidding for new projects, Siemens can point to its experience with the TAIPEI 101 skyscraper. The building is the only third tallest in the world, but it has bragging rights as the world's 'greenest' skyscraper.
Siemens designed a concept for the whole building and supervised its installation. The modifications took place with the building in full use, which didn't make the project any easier. "We had to retrain the skyscraper's 11,000 occupants. That was a real challenge," recalls Cathy Yang, vice-president of TAIPEI 101.
The successful completion of the project earned them the internationally recognized LEED Certificate for Sustainability in platinum and reduced annual energy costs in the building by 500,000 euros (650,000 US dollars).
Taiwan has a problem, however, that affects many German companies operating there. Its university graduates frequently do not possess the qualifications that the German firms need.
"The discrepancy between the education and the practical requirements is often so large that Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou sees a security risk for the future of the country," says Roland Wein, head of the German business liaison office in Taipei.
That is why Taiwan is very interested in Germany's dual education system, which combines classroom learning with on-the-job training.
Taiwan instead of Japan
For at least one German company - Freudenberg - Taiwan was more of an accidental choice. The manufacturer of non-woven plastic fiber products expanded into East Asia more than 25 years ago - at the time, Japan was too expensive at the height of a real estate bubble and China hadn't yet opened up to the outside world, so Freudenberg settled in Taiwan provisionally.
But interim solutions often last the longest, and Freudenberg is now looking to expand again - at a cost of 35 million euros right next door.