Economic growth poised to exceed 2% for last year

TENTATIVE::The DGBAS’ upward revision for growth in the final quarter of last year would raise overall annual growth to 2.19%, but it warned of uncertainties this year

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jan 29, 2014 - Page 13

The nation’s economy is unexpectedly set to post growth of more than 2 percent for last year, after the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) raised its fourth-quarter annual GDP growth forecast to 2.92 percent.

The revised estimate for last year’s October-to-December period is 1.7 percentage points higher than the 1.22 percent year-on-year growth forecast by DGBAS in November last year.

The 2.92 percent would drive GDP growth for the whole of last year up to 2.19 percent, exceeding the 1.74 percent that the agency had estimated previously.

“Signs of revival coexist with uncertainty in the current economy,” DGBAS senior executive officer Jasmine Mei (梅家瑗) told a press conference.

Despite the provisionally higher-than-expected GDP expansion last quarter, Taiwan still faces various uncertainties with regard to the global economy this year, Mei said.

These include the US Federal Reserve’s planned tapering of its quantitative easing program, Japan’s move to raise its consumption tax rate later this year and China’s new policy to focus less on GDP growth, she added.

Mei attributed last year’s relatively strong final quarter to higher-than-expected growth in exports, private consumption and investment.

The Ministry of Finance’s Customs Administration last week raised its export figures for last quarter by US$2.2 billion, which represents an impressive 3.95 percent rise from a year earlier.

The improving momentum in private consumption and fixed capital formation also spearheaded the economy’s overall GDP growth, by showing annual increases of 3.25 percent and 9.74 percent respectively last quarter.

For this quarter, Barclays Capital said the economy might experience some moderation, before picking up steam again in the second quarter amid stronger domestic and external demand.

Leong Wai Ho (梁偉豪), a senior regional economist with the British banking group, yesterday said the central bank would likely keep its policy interest rates unchanged until the second half of this year to help support the local recovery, given the benign inflationary environment.

Hong Kong-based ANZ Research senior economist Raymond Yeung (楊宇霆) said he does not expect the year’s first rate hike to be announced any earlier than December.