Taiwan's Q1 GDP grows 3.04%, beating forecast

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Economic growth in Taiwan stronger than expected in 1st quarter. (By Central News Agency)

Taipei (CNA) - Taiwan's gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of this year grew 3.04 percent from a year earlier, beating an earlier forecast of 2.77 percent, due to better than expected exports and strong private consumption, according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).

The DGBAS said the 3.04 percent growth was the highest for the first quarter in three years, since the first quarter of 2016 when the GDP rose 3.22 percent from a year earlier.

Compared to the previous quarter, Taiwan's first quarter GDP grew 0.33 percent from the fourth quarter of last year, after seasonal adjustments, the DGBAS said.

Due to the higher than expected GDP growth for the first quarter, DGBAS specialist Huang Wei-chieh said if the economic growth for the following quarters remain unchanged as forecast, the growth for the entire 2018 will hit 2.48 percent, beating an earlier forecast of 2.42 percent.

According to the DGBAS's estimate made in February, Taiwan's GDP growth will rise 2.90 percent, 2.16 percent and 1.89 percent in the second, third and fourth quarter, respectively.

Huang said Taiwan's economy benefited for the first quarter from a continued global recovery, which boosted demand, while the world's high tech industry kept booming, in particular for semiconductor suppliers.

In addition, global demand for machinery has been on the rise at a time when manufacturers around the world have been keen to expand production, Huang said.

Under such circumstances, Taiwan's exports of merchandise and services grew 6.03 percent in the first quarter, an upgrade from an earlier estimate of 3.93 percent, while the country's imports rose 5.61 percent, compared with a forecast of 3.67 percent, the DGBAS said.

After subtracting imports, Taiwan's net foreign demand contributed to the country's GDP by 0.87 percentage points in the first quarter, the DGBAS said.

During the January-March period, Taiwan's private consumption grew 3.02 percent, beating an earlier estimate of 2.69 percent due to an increase in wages and a booming equity market, the DGBAS said, adding that private consumption growth contributed 1.70 percentage points to the country's GDP growth.

However, capital formation for the first quarter fell 1.70 percent, compared with an earlier forecast of a 2.15 percent increase, reflecting a slower pace of investments by the government and semiconductor firms as well as a higher comparison base over the same period last year, the DGBAS said. The decline dragged down the first quarter GDP growth by 0.35 percentage points, the DGBAS added.

While Huang remained upbeat about Taiwan's GDP growth for 2018, he said the public should be alert to the on-going trade friction between the United States and China, which could affect the global economic recovery and the world's demand.

According to Huang, the U.S. and China, the two largest economies in the world, account for 10 percent and 40 percent of Taiwan's total exports, respectively. (By Chen Cheng-wei and Frances Huang)