By Elizabeth Hsu
TAIPEI, Taiwan, (CNA) – Taiwan recorded an 8.16 percent growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of the year, the highest since Q4, 2010, according to statistics released Friday by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).
The figure marks a rise of 1.96 percentage points from the agency’s estimate of 6.20 percent in February, the DGBAS said in its GDP estimate for Q1 2021, attributing the strong growth to domestic production capacity expansion and persistent investment, as well as better-than-expected exports and investment.
Based on the estimate, the real GDP grew by 12.93 percent on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted annualized basis and 8.16 percent on a year-on-year basis in Q1, the agency said.
DGBAS official Wu Pei-shuan (吳佩璇) said the economy in Q1 was better than expected. “The annual economic growth rate would easily rise to break the 5 percent mark with the upward adjustment in Q1, if the 2, 3 and 4 figures were all at the same level as those estimated in February,” she said.
Asked what caused such strong economic growth in Q1, Wu, a specialist in composite statistics, said that foreign demand was high, while domestic investment and consumption were also strong.
“Overall, the economy continued a rising trend, pushed forward by robust growth in the second half of last year,” Wu said.
In Q1, export goods calculated in US dollar terms rose 24.58 percent, with electronic components and video/audio and information communication products showing the strongest growth at 28.37 percent and 29.67 percent, respectively, compared with the same period of last year, according to the DGBAS estimate.
Exports of rubber and plastic products, machinery, chemicals and basic metal products also recorded increases of over 20 percent.
“Thanks to a warming international business climate, all exports grew,” Wu said.
In terms of imports, goods calculated in US dollar terms surged 21.07 percent year-on-year, with capital equipment recording growth of 25.49 percent, consumer commodities at 20.31 percent and agricultural and industrial raw materials at 20.02 percent.
Total merchandise and service exports in Q1 grew 19.57 percent, while imports were up 14.63 percent year-on-year amid a continuing boost in long-distance business and the work-from-home economy, along with an increasingly surging demand for 5G and high-efficiency computing solutions, the DGBAS figures show.
Regarding gross capital formation, investment in machinery equipment, transportation equipment and construction grew significantly, the agency said.
Combining inventory changes, the real gross capital formation expanded by 8.29 percent year-on-year, up by 9.43 percentage points from the February estimate, it said.
Meanwhile, private consumption expanded by 2.08 percent year-on-year in Q1, a reversal from declines in the four previous quarters.
This mainly reflected the strong growth of domestic consumption, which offset most of the slump in consumption expenditure abroad caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the effect of a low base last year, the DGBAS said.
Wu said that border controls remain in place in most countries around the world amid the pandemic, leading to a negative 83.83 percent growth in Taiwanese people’s consumption overseas in Q1.
However, an increase in the population of consumers in the domestic market and the accumulation in profits, boosted by rebounding economic climate and strong stock trading, heated up buying of high-priced goods such as cars, Wu said.
A persistently hot work-from-home economy also prompted retail sales and revenue in the restaurant and beverage sector, she added.