Taiwan's economic growth falls to three-year low

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's economy grew 1.26 per cent in 2012, its slowest pace in three years owing to shrinking exports, the government said Friday.

The figures mark the worst performance since a 1.81 per cent contraction in 2009 when the economy was buffeted by the global financial crisis, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said.

It compared with a preliminary estimate of 1.25 per cent made last month and 1.13 per cent made in November, on better-than-expected foreign trade and domestic spending, the directorate said in a statement.

Fourth quarter growth came in at 3.72 per cent, also up from January's prediction of 3.42 per cent and November's 2.97 per cent estimate.

For 2013, the agency projected growth of 3.59 per cent, on the back of growing overseas demand for the island's signature electronics and telecom products.

"It will help maintain our export momentum amid improving outlook for our major trade partners the United States, China, Japan and Southeast Asian countries," the statement said.

Taiwan's trade-dependent economy shrank in the second quarter of 2012 for the first time in nearly three years, while its exports shrank for six consecutive months from March to August.