Taiwan's economic growth surges past Japan, S. Korea

Taiwan's economic growth trumps that of Japan, S. Korea thanks to increased exports to US, reshoring from China

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(Photo by Instagram user @adamwoolhether)

(Photo by Instagram user @adamwoolhether)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's economic growth exceeded that of regional rivals Japan and South Korea in the first nine months of this year, thanks to relatively stronger export numbers and investment from Taiwanese firms reshoring from China.

In a report titled (台日韓出口情勢比較) published on Monday (Oct. 28), the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) announced that Taiwan's economy grew at a rate of 2.4 percent from January to September of this year, surpassing South Korea's 2.1 percent and Japan's 1.2 percent. One major factor contributing to Taiwan's superior growth was exports, which increased by 2.8 percent over that period compared to 1.5 percent for South Korea and 1.7 percent for Japan.

According to the report, Taiwan's export dependence (value of exports as a proportion of GDP) in 2018 was 56.6 percent, higher than South Korea's 37.4 percent and Japan's 14.9 percent. From January to September, Taiwan's top five exports accounted for 69.1 percent of its total exports, while its top five trading partners accounted for 86.5 percent of total exports.

Taiwan's exports fell by 2.5 percent year-on-year over the first nine months of the year, while South Korea's fell 9.8 percent and Japan's dropped 4.8 percent over the same period. The report blamed the drop on decreased demand due to a global economic slowdown and a decline in raw material prices.

However, the report also stated that Taiwan has suffered less of a decline than its rivals because its exports to China and Hong Kong fell less while its exports to the U.S. increased significantly. Taiwan's exports to China decreased by 6.7 percent, while South Korea saw a plunge of 21.4 percent and Japan a dip of 7.9 percent.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's exports to the U.S. increased by 17.7 percent, with South Korea and Japan seeing more modest increases of 3.6 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. Taiwan's drop in China was somewhat mitigated by a 3.9 percent rise in the export of information technology, network communications, and audio-visual products.

In general, the report cited the return of Taiwanese enterprises and the accompanying increase in investment, manufacturing, exports, and employment as helping to boost Taiwan's economy.