Consensus for Taiwan's growth in 2018: above 2%

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Taiwan's economy to grow more than 2 percent in 2018. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (CNA) -- The broad consensus among economic think tanks is that Taiwan will continue to grow at a slow but steady pace next year, with all of them projecting growth of 2-2.6 percent in 2018.

Taiwan's economic performance in 2017 was better than expected, helped by steady global growth and rising international raw material prices, Taiwan's official statistics agency, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS), has said, pointing to steady growth and strong exports.

The country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first three quarters of 2017 was 2.66 percent, 2.13 percent and 3.11 percent, respectively, and Taiwan's exports hit a record monthly high in November at US$28.88 billion, up 14 percent from a year earlier.

The November export figures marked the 14th consecutive month in which Taiwan's outbound sales grew on a year-on-year basis, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said, and it expected the growth trend to continue in 2018.

Bolstered by that momentum, Taiwan's economy growth should remain above 2 percent next year, according to major economic think tanks.

Academia Sinica was the most optimistic among them, pegging 2018 growth at 2.43 percent, compared with growth projections of 2.31 percent by the Taiwan Research Institute and 2.3 percent by the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER).

Other predictions for 2018 growth were 2.29 percent by the DGBAS, 2.27 percent by the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER) and 2.2 percent by the Yuanta-Polaris Research Institute.
None of those projections, however, exceeded Taiwan's 2017 growth rate, which the DGBAS estimated in November at 2.58 percent.

Academia Sinica attributed its forecast of a lower growth rate in 2018 to the relatively high base of comparison set in 2017, even while expecting the domestic economy to continue its recovery due to surging global demand and a steady rise in raw material prices.

Kamhon Kan, director of Academia Sinica's Institute of Economics, cautioned that there are still uncertainties that could adversely affect Taiwan's economy in the coming year.

They include the dangers of a potential "trade war" between the United States and China, the U.S. tax reform plan, and the U.S. Fed's plan to downsize its balance sheet, which could put pressure on the bond market and cause interest rates to rise.

Yuanta-Polaris President Liang Kuo-yuan said the future development of cross-strait relations and the government's economic policies are also factors that will affect the economy in the coming year.