World Economy

Taiwan Narrowly Escapes Recession

Taiwan Narrowly Escapes RecessionTaiwan Narrowly Escapes Recession

Taiwan narrowly dodged a recession in the third quarter even as the economy contracted for the first time since the global financial crisis, with exporters suffering a crippling blow from faltering global demand and a slowdown in mainland China.

The worse-than-expected 1.01% slump in July-September gross domestic product was the first year-on-year contraction in six years and prompted the government to announce a NT$4.08 billion ($125.8 million) stimulus package to boost domestic consumption over the short term, Reuters reported.

High-tech manufacturers in Taiwan’s trade-reliant economy have been hurt by faltering demand in regional powerhouse mainland China, along with other exporters from Singapore to Japan to Brazil.

“”The biggest drag is exports due to the softening of China. That won’t dissipate anytime soon and probably will drag on growth in the fourth quarter,” said Emily Dabbs, economist with Moody’s Analytics in Sydney.

Premier Mao Chi-kuo told a news briefing after the release of Friday’s preliminary GDP figures that Taiwan’s outlook would depend on how conditions evolve overseas, a tacit admission that policymakers have few answers to depressed global demand.

“We will do what we can with these short term measures,” Mao said.

The year-on-year GDP decline was deeper than a forecast 0.6% drop in an analysts’ poll, compared with 0.52% growth in the second quarter.

Taiwan barely escaped two consecutive quarters of contraction, which would have put the economy in a technical recession for the first time since the depths of the financial crisis in 2009.

The economy grew by just 0.21% in the third quarter on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis after shrinking 6.56% in the second quarter from the first.

Facing deteriorating global conditions, the central bank cut rates for the first time since the global financial crisis in late September and some analysts expect it may have to ease further.

“The overall environment is still not good and the central bank must shoulder the burden of saving the economy,” said Forest Chen, an analyst with TC Bank in Taipei.

A key supply-chain hub for high-tech products, Taiwan’s manufacturers that contract for global titans such as Apple and Hewlett-Packard have been hit hard.

Exports dropped 14% in September with sales to major trading partner mainland China tumbling 17.1%, carving off a big slice of economic output.