Sat, Sep 08, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Standard Chartered says 2% GDP growth still likely

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan could still achieve a GDP growth of 2 percent this year as global smartphone and computer makers are planning to launch new products in the coming months, benefitting their local tech suppliers, Standard Chartered Bank said yesterday.

Meanwhile, domestic consumption, although not immune to the impact of the global slowdown, would continue to underpin the economy given its relatively healthy state, thanks to a stable job market and an increasingly strong service sector, Tony Phoo (符銘財), a Taipei-based economist at the British banking group, told a media briefing.

“There are still chances for Taiwan’s export-focused economy to grow by 2 percent this year if exports show signs of a pickup into the fourth quarter,” Phoo said.

Taiwan is home to critical component suppliers of smartphones, laptops, tablet computers and other consumer electronics.

Exports declined 4.2 percent year-on-year to US$24.69 billion last month, narrowing from an 11 percent retreat recorded in July, Ministry of Finance data showed yesterday.

Phoo said he was not surprised by the lackluster showing last month, as global electronics vendors turn conservative about inventory building.

Exports may swing to positive territory from this month as Apple Inc is set to launch its much-anticipated iPhone 5 next week and Taiwanese smartphone vendor HTC Corp (宏達電) will roll out a new flagship product later this month.

Microsoft Corp plans to market its Windows 8 operating system next month, which may induce replacement demand for new notebook computers manufactured by local technology firms.

Still, Standard Chartered’s forecast of 2 percent GDP growth represented a sharp downward revision from its previous forecast of 2.7 percent.

Phoo said he was more optimistic than the government and most of his peers who are forecasting growth of below 2 percent for this year after the first half showed zero growth.

Phoo attributed his confidence to resilient domestic consumption, which has continued to expand and is likely to further strengthen with the advent of the high season.

Improving cross-strait trade ties would lend a helping hand, with more China-bound exports — from the current 538 items — likely to enjoy favorable tax terms by the end of this year, he said.

Meanwhile, the number of Chinese tourists could hit 2 million this year, from 1.8 million last year, generating more tourism revenue, the economist said.

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