Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng (鄧振中) yesterday said it would be difficult for the nation to maintain its GDP growth rate above 1 percent this year, after the latest economic data showed the economy remained sluggish last month.
Last month, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) forecast that the nation’s GDP would increase by 1.56 percent this year from last year.
“Given the challenging global environment, of course it will be difficult, but the ministry will do whatever it can to reach that goal,” Deng told lawmakers during a meeting of the Economics Committee at the legislature in Taipei.
This week, the ministry reported the fifth consecutive month of a year-on-year decline in export orders and the fourth consecutive month of a year-on-year drop in industrial production.
The ministry’s statistics also showed that domestic commercial sales had fallen for the sixth consecutive month last month.
On Wednesday, JPMorgan Chase & Co revised down its GDP growth forecast for this year.
“The full-year GDP growth forecast now stands at 0.6 percent, compared with the previous estimate of 1 percent. Besides, the forecast for next year’s GDP growth has also been revised down to 1.5 percent from [a] previous forecast of 2.1 percent,” JPMorgan Hong Kong-based economist Grace Ng (吳向紅) said in a report.
There is also speculations that the DGBAS is likely to further trim its economic growth forecast.
Deng said there is not much the ministry can do to boost the nation’s economic growth in the short term.
“What we could do at the moment is to increase the number of trade shows in Taiwan, attracting more foreign investment,” Deng said.
“The ministry also plans to invite more Taiwanese companies to join international trade shows to increase their exposure in global markets,” he said.
In the long term, the ministry would continue to help Taiwanese companies to raise their competitiveness, and encourage them to invest more in research and development, he said.
“The measures require a longer time to bring benefits to the companies,” he said.
When asked by lawmakers if there has been an increase in the number of employees taking unpaid leave this year, Deng said: “There has not been an obvious increase.”
As of this month, there were 946 employees at 21 companies taking unpaid leave, he said, citing data from the Ministry of Labor.
According to the labor ministry’s statistics, there were 337 workers taking unpaid leave in the same period last year.
Deng said the ministry has sent officials to the companies, offering consultations and advice to help the firms increase their competitiveness.
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