The COVID-19 pandemic might weigh on the nation’s economy through the second quarter and erase up to 1.4 percentage points from GDP growth this year in the worst-case scenario, National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) said yesterday.
The government would seek to retain GDP growth of more than 2 percent by introducing relief funds and stimulus measures that could be stepped up if necessary, she said.
“The virus outbreak might affect the economy for six months,” twice as long as previously expected, as it has spread to Europe and the US, Chen told a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Economics Committee in Taipei.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
Disruptions caused by the coronavirus on global economic activity would dent Taiwan’s GDP growth by 0.66 percentage points this year, if the world can contain the disease by June, she said.
A protracted outbreak could reduce GDP growth by 1.4 percentage points in the worst-case scenario, in which tourist arrivals would continue to dwindle and export orders dry up, she added.
The bleak projection does not take into account benefits to be generated from a stimulus package and potential increases in domestic tourism as global restrictions limit outbound travel, Chen said.
There is still a chance for the economy to grow 2 percent if all government agencies work hard to ensure that relief funds reach their intended recipients and public works budgets are effectively implemented, she said.
“That is the government’s goal. We cannot afford to be optimistic, but there is no time for pessimism,” Chen said.
Major economic gauges look healthy so far, Chen said, adding that the government’s business climate monitor for last month would not disappoint given the mild outbreak in Taiwan.
The council is scheduled to release the data this afternoon.
However, lockdowns in Europe and several US states pose a bigger threat to economic activity than concerns over supply-chain disruptions in China, which have subsided along with the number of new infections in that nation, Chen said.
The government would evaluate the global fight against COVID-19 and would strengthen its aid program if needed, she said.
Despite heightened downside risks, the coronavirus has lent support to e-commerce and the digital economy, she added.
Taiwan can take advantage of the opportunity to transform its economy, facilitating the development of 5G and artificial-intelligence applications, Chen said.
Taiwanese firms command global leadership in chip manufacturing and design, as well as other technologies, she said.
Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online. Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally. In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18. One of the campaign posters depicted
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
HELPING HAND: Taiwan is ready to help other nations and will not sit idly by while the global fight against the coronavirus continues, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan, as a responsible member of the international community, is to offer humanitarian assistance to nations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic by sending them masks and medicine, as well as sharing with them an electronic system that the government has been using to track down people that need to be quarantined, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. With the nation’s daily production having reached 13 million masks and soon to reach 15 million, the government is to donate 10 million masks to medical personnel in nations most severely affected by the coronavirus, Tsai said at the Presidential Office in Taipei. The