The economy likely grew more than 3 percent in the first quarter of this year, with the upward trend expected to continue in the next two quarters, a local academic said yesterday.
Although first-quarter exports were not as good as expected, consumption was strong enough to support the government’s projection of 3.26 percent GDP growth, said Shia Ben-chang (謝邦昌), a professor in the Statistics and Information Science Department at Fu Jen Catholic University.
Exports in the first three months of the year totaled US$72.64 billion, up 2.4 percent from the same period last year, but failed to meet the government’s forecast of 4.71 percent growth, official data showed.
The Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) is scheduled to release its first-quarter GDP figure today.
In February, the DGBAS forecast that the economy would grow 3.26 percent in the first quarter and 3.59 percent for the full year.
However, speculation is high that the government might not be able to achieve its growth target for this quarter, following the release of official data last week indicating weaker-than-expected growth in export orders, industrial production and domestic commercial sales.
The latest manufacturing activity data provided by the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (台灣經濟研究院) yesterday offered more evidence of slowing growth in the industrial sector.
Manufacturing sentiment remained sluggish last month, with the business climate flashing “blue” — implying a decline — for the second consecutive month, the institute said in a report.
The manufacturing sector’s cyclical movement stood at 10.02 points last month, up 0.13 points from the revised 9.89 points seen in February, the Taipei-based think tank said.
“Exports returned to growth last month from a year earlier, but export orders, estimated production and sales in the manufacturing sector maintained their annual pace of decline,” the report said.
However, the sector’s decline eased last month from February, leading to a rise in cyclical movements, the report said.
The institute said that manufacturing may start to recover in the second quarter, following the end of the seasonally weak first quarter.