RAPID EXPANSION: Exports soared 24.58 percent last quarter, which beat a 16.77 percent increase that the nation’s statistics agency had previously projected
By Crystal Hsu / Staff reporter
Taiwan’s GDP growth was 8.16 percent last quarter, beating the government’s February forecast by 1.96 percentage points, as demand for all product categories grew, thanks to stronger exports and private investment, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said yesterday.
The figure is the best in more than a decade and could hoist full-year growth to 5.1 percent, from 4.64 percent, in the absence of corrections for the rest of the year, national income section official Wu Pei-shuan （吳佩璇） told a news conference in Taipei.
“Exports and private investment turned out way stronger than we expected two months earlier,” Wu said.
Exports soared 24.58 percent during the January-to-March period, faster than a 16.77 percent increase the statistics agency projected, as local firms benefited from an improving global economy, Wu said.
Shipments of electronics spiked 28.37 percent, while information and communications technology devices rose 29.6 percent, the official said.
Taiwan is home to the world’s largest contract suppliers of chips, camera lenses, flat panels, battery packs and other devices used in smartphones, TVs and laptops, as well as artificial intelligence and Internet of Things applications.
Business in traditional sectors also increased with advances of more than 20 percent in exports of machinery, plastics, chemicals and base metal products, which are signs that the recovery is broad-based rather than limited to tech firms as it was last year, Wu said.
External demand contributed 4.53 percentage points to first-quarter GDP, suggesting that other components also made contributions, the agency said.
Capital formation by the public and private sectors expanded 8.29 percent, as imports of capital equipment rose 18.33 percent year-on-year, Wu said.
Wu said that the statistics agency had forecast a slowdown in purchases of capital equipment from record-high numbers a year earlier, but the reality proved different.
Private investment is strong amid local chipmakers, memorychip makers, and chip testing and packaging service providers, Wu said, adding that petrochemical and other non-tech companies also bolstered investment to meet growing business needs.
Private consumption gained 2.08 percent, reversing four quarters of decline, as retail sales grew 9.08 percent, while restaurant revenues picked up 7.38 percent, although border controls continued to weigh on foreign tourist arrivals, the agency said.
The local bourse — with daily turnover more than doubling from a year earlier — also lent support, it said.
Government spending also increased 4.32 percent, adding 0.58 percentage points to the economy, it added.
In all, domestic demand rose 4.09 percent and lifted GDP growth by 3.63 percentage points, it said.
The statistics agency is to update its growth projections on May 28.