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Officials upbeat about Taiwan's GDP in 2020 despite IMF’s grim forecast

IMF says Taiwan’s economy to contract 4 percent as world economy suffers from coronavirus fallout

(Port of Kaohsiung Facebook photo)

(Port of Kaohsiung Facebook photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese economic experts joined officials in refuting the gloomy prediction by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the country’s economy will shrink by 4 percent this year.

The IMF released a report Tuesday (April 14) which forecasts that the global economy will contract by 3 percent in 2020, the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It revised down Taiwan’s GDP outlook from 2 percent growth last October to a drop of 4 percent in 2020, and it expects the figure to rebound to 3.5 percent next year.

Countering the bleak forecast, the National Development Council (NDC) said in a statement the figure has been “seriously underestimated.” NDC is the top policy-planning agency of the Taiwanese central government.

According to the NDC, the IMF estimate has not taken into consideration rigorous measures taken by Taiwan to curb the coronavirus or its bailout packages to prop up the economy. The government has set aside a budget of NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.9 billion), which includes loans and investment for businesses, for this purpose.

The council holds a more optimistic view of the country’s economic prospects, expecting its GDP to expand this year to lead the four "Asian Tigers" in terms of growth. The IMF has predicted that the economies of South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong will contract 1.2 percent, 3.5 percent, and 4.8 percent, respectively, in 2020.

Chang Chien-yi (張建一), president of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, shrugged off the IMF's grim forecast, saying the organization has miscalculated Taiwan’s economic strengths in past forecasts. Nevertheless, the domestic service industry has been the hardest hit by the Wuhan virus, Chang said, adding that the government should place a priority on aiding households and expanding unemployment relief, wrote Liberty Times.