AT the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, Darson Chiu responds enthusiastically to a question about Scotch whisky during a briefing in which the think-tank offers a sober assessment of the challenges facing the east Asian economy.

His passion about Scotch underlines the impression that, in Taiwan, it is whisky for which Scotland remains best known.

However, while whisky continues to account for the bulk of Scotland’s exports to Taiwan, taxpayer-backed export promotion agency Scottish Development International (SDI) highlights successes in this east Asian market for companies operating in sectors from seafood to life sciences.

And SDI has high hopes of what Scottish companies might do in the renewable energy arena in Taiwan, in terms of providing equipment and services particularly for offshore wind power. SDI highlights opportunities on this front in the context of heavy investment by Taiwan to ramp up its renewable capacity and ensure security of energy supply.

David Leven, who covers Taiwan as head of Greater China at SDI, cites new and emerging demand in sectors including energy, highlighting “offshore wind construction, equipment and services”.

He also flags potential for Scottish companies to play a role in carbon capture technology, and in nuclear decommissioning in Taiwan.

Mr Leven meanwhile cites potential for Scotland to increase seafood exports to Taiwan, which is known officially in its home territory as the Republic of China.

He says: “In the food and drink sector, we’re seeing growing interest in langoustines, razor clams and brown crabs.”

Mackerel is among Scotland’s other exports to Taiwan.

However, given Taiwan’s generally hot climate, Scottish cashmere is not in high demand.

Mr Leven says: “There’s not a strong market for Scotland’s high-end textiles and fabrics such as cashmere in Taiwan, due to our warm climate. Taiwan only has two months a year of low temperature, at 10 to 12 degrees Celsius.”

In the life sciences sector, Mr Leven highlights opportunities for Scottish companies arising from demand in Taiwan for medical-grade collagen and bioarray printers. And he sees potential demand from Taiwan for the “new and innovative technologies” of Scotland’s financial technology (fintech) sector.

Taiwan is Scotland’s 26th-biggest export market, according to latest figures. SDI notes direct Scottish exports to Taiwan dipped to £235 million in 2015 from £255m in 2014, but they were significantly ahead of the £205m achieved in 2013.

At the briefing from the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research in Taipei, the experts appear to be somewhat lamenting the expectation that this east Asian economy will grow at an average annual rate of 2.5 per cent on a five-year view.

It is a far cry from Brexit Britain, in which the UK Government has little or no prospect of such an average annual growth rate over this period based on current indications and projections. Growth in the UK economy has slowed to a quarterly pace of 0.3 per cent.

Scotland has not been immune to the weakness of the UK as a whole, and has been dealt a further blow in recent years by the effect of weak crude prices. Although the Scottish economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the first quarter, this followed a period of significant underperformance of the UK as a whole. Scottish expansion slowed to 0.1 per cent in the second quarter.

All of that said, the projected growth rate for Taiwan is weak by this east Asian economy’s powerful historical standards.

Gordon Sun, director of the macroeconomic forecasting centre at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, highlighted challenges facing Taiwan’s economy because of its “ageing society and low birth rate”, as well as competition from mainland China and south-east Asian countries.

Addressing the broader context in the region at the Yushan Forum in Taipei last week, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen declared: “The rise of Asia is already one of the most momentous changes in this generation.”

She highlighted Taiwan’s “new southbound policy”, aimed at co-operating with countries in south and south-east Asia.

President Tsai declared these were “some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, powered by young, dynamic and well-educated populations”.

The Taiwan Institute of Economic Research highlighted a view that the new southbound policy would deliver more if it was accompanied by free trade agreements between Taiwan and the countries with which it aims to cooperate and build greater economic ties.

However, Taiwan’s cross-strait relationship with the People’s Republic of China usually looms large when it comes to negotiating trade agreements.

Taiwan remains a huge player in the information and communications technology (ICT) arena, and is home to major household names in the electronics sector such as Asus, Acer and HTC.

However, this prowess also brings its challenges, as highlighted by Connie Chang, director-general of the department of overall planning at Taiwan’s National Development Council.

It is many years since large-scale Taiwanese electronics manufacturing operations exited Scotland.

However, the constant need for major electronics players to adapt their business models to stay ahead in these days of globalisation remains as great as ever.

Ms Chang said of Taiwan: “We are really famous around the world for our ICT manufacturing but we have very fierce competitors from across the Taiwan Strait and even south Asia.”

She noted Taiwan would not be able to maintain its position by being cheap but would have to move up the value chain.

Ms Chang added: “We need to upgrade our industries so we can stay terms of technology capability.”