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Coronavirus pandemic could force GDP growth below 1%: Taiwan business leaders

If pandemic lasts until year's end, US and European demand for Taiwanese products will be weak

The coronavirus epidemic might force Taiwan's economic growth down to 1 percent 

The coronavirus epidemic might force Taiwan's economic growth down to 1 percent  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – If the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lasts beyond the summer, Taiwan could find it hard to see its economy grow by even just 1 percent, business leaders said Friday (April 10).

Most forecasts from before the pandemic saw Taiwan’s Gross Domestic Product expand by at least 2 percent during 2020, though as the virus started affecting more countries, economists and institutes started adjusting the figure downward to just above or under 2 percent.

Speaking in Taipei Friday, General Chamber of Commerce (全國商業總會) Chairman Lai Cheng-yi (賴正鎰) said that original expectations had been that the pandemic could be brought under control by the end of March. In that event, Taiwan’s GDP growth would have ranged from 2.2 percent to 2.3 percent. However, that was not the case, with the number of deaths growing rapidly around the world, CNA quoted the businessman as saying.

If the pandemic lasts beyond the summer until the end of the year, Taiwan’s economy would find it hard to grow even by just 1 percent, according to Lai. One of the main reasons would be that demand in the United States and Europe would remain weak because of the ravages caused by the coronavirus, leaving Taiwan with shrinking markets for its exports.

At present, several sectors of the Taiwanese economy are suffering, with restaurants seeing their business drop by more than 80 percent, hotels by 75 percent, and launderettes by at least half, according to Lai.

While the government has launched a package worth more than NT$1 trillion (US$33.28 billion) to support the economy, the business leaders said it might be enough to help enterprises extend their life but not to fuel a real revival.