Mon, Oct 22, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Economists pessimistic on prospects for Taiwan

By Lee Yu-hsin and Jake Chung  /  Staff Reporter, with staff writer

Panel members at a forum listen yesterday to National Taiwan University economics professor Kenneth Lin.

Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times

Government efforts launched last month to stimulate the economy lack any clear results and GDP might still contract or grow at a rate of less than 1 percent, economists said yesterday.

National Taiwan University economics professor Kenneth Lin (林向愷) said he did not believe President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) could make good on his promise to make economic progress within the month — which would be up on Wednesday — despite a rise in exports last month and a lowering of the unemployment rate.

The rise in exports last month was primarily due to the Chinese need for petrochemical and information-technology products, and it also shows that Taiwan’s export products are prone to fluctuation.

Pointing to the Ma administration’s promise to “feel improvements in the economy” last month, Lin said he did not see how the people “felt” anything except the continued increase in unpaid leave, short-term and irregular workers, and the continued stagnation of Taiwan’s average wages.

Lin said there were still more than 3 million people with monthly wages below NT$30,000 (US$1,000), adding: “I’m sure if someone made a poll on whether economy had improved, they would say: ‘What improvements?’”

National Taipei University economics professor Wang To-far (王塗發) also said Taiwan saw a 4 percent decrease in its exports this year, totaling NT$220 billion between January and last month.

There’s no way anybody would “feel” an upturn with those kind of figures, Wang said, adding that the nation’s GDP also did not do well in the first quarter, and contracted in the second quarter.

There have not been any constructive economic policies in the past month aside from the “complicated and nigh incomprehensible Economic Power-up Plan,” Wang said.

Commenting on the government’s trumpeting of a rise in exports last month, Wang said rise was seasonal, because the month usually saw high exports in the run-up to Christmas.

The rise in exports did not necessarily point to an increase in Taiwan’s total GDP for the year, Wang said, adding that this year’s GDP would likely “be below 1 percent.”

Wang also said that the Ma administration “didn’t understand economics,” saying that it was impossible to perceive economic problems within a month, much less fix them.

Meanwhile, in a seminar hosted by the Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP), attending economists all warned that the “Ma administration’s economic opening-up policy was a mistake.”

Lin said that Taiwan had no lack of talent and funding, but despite that, the Ma administration insisted on introducing Chinese talent and investment in Taiwan on a large scale.

Lin said that was an attempt by the administration to use “ally with China to rule Taiwan” methods when the nation was beset with problems, tying Taiwan and China closer together.

Wang also said Taiwan’s know-how was migrating into China at a rapid speed because more than 70 percent of Taiwanese investments were concentrated in countries with less sophisticated methods and technology.

This has turned Taiwan-China relations from mutual aid into competition, Wang said, adding that Taiwan should lessen its trade dependency on China and strive to keep ahead in the technology sector.

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