Taiwan bumps up 2017 growth forecast

TAIPEI • Taiwan raised its 2017 economic growth forecast to 2.58 per cent from 2.11 per cent yesterday, as stronger-than-expected exports and private consumption helped drive economic momentum.

The island economy's final reading on third-quarter gross domestic product joined the list of upside surprises reported across much of Asia, as manufacturers there gained from the global tech boom.

"Taiwan's exports are expected to remain solid in the fourth quarter of 2017, mainly underpinned by robust global demand, particularly for semiconductor and consumer electronic products," the government said in a statement.

"In the domestic sector, real private consumption is maintaining the growth momentum, benefiting from the accelerated economic growth, improving labour market and vibrant stock market performance."

The government also nudged up its outlook for next year to 2.29 per cent, from 2.27 per cent projected in August.

In February, Taiwan projected 1.92 per cent growth for 2017, and that forecast was lifted to 2.05 per cent in May, and then 2.11 per cent in August. Third-quarter growth was tweaked to 3.1 per cent from the government's initial estimate of 3.11 per cent.

The latest revision was announced by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics. Exports have proven to be a strong spot in the economy this year, and the last few months are traditionally a busy season with manufacturers meeting orders for the launches of new smartphone products and other gadgets.

Apple's highly anticipated iPhone X went on sale on Nov 3. Taiwan is one of Asia's major exporters, especially of technology goods, and its export trend is an important gauge of global demand for technology gadgets worldwide.

Ms Achilles Chen, an analyst at Cathay Financial, said the government's bumped-up forecast was in line with expectations.

"A growth rate of more than 2 per cent should not be a problem next year, especially since there is optimism and confidence among the public."

However, she added that potential US fiscal reforms and oil prices could pose risks to the growth outlook. On inflation, the government trimmed its 2017 forecast to 0.62 per cent from 0.66 per cent, citing stable domestic food prices.

But it slightly raised inflation to 0.96 per cent from an earlier estimate of 0.87 per cent for next year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2017, with the headline 'Taiwan bumps up 2017 growth forecast'. Print Edition | Subscribe