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Taiwan exports forecast to grow 4.53% this year.

TAIPEI, March 15 Kyodo

Taiwan's exports are expected to grow a better-than-expected 4.53% this year after contracting 17.1% in 2001 as the global and domestic economies are showing increasing signs of warming up, the Economics Ministry's Board of Foreign Trade said Friday.

Imports are expected to recover to a 5.37% growth rate compared to last year's 23.4% contraction, the board said.

With Taiwan's jobless rate stabilizing, industrial production, foreign orders and other economic indicators improving over the past three months, the board sees rosier prospects for the island's trade.

It also said there are signs of an economic recovery in the United States, which is Taiwan's top export market, boding well for an improvement in exports.

At the same time prices for key electronics exports such as DRAM computer chips have been rising substantially in recent months.

It cited as possible adverse effects on trade Japan's prolonged recession, the Japanese government's sluggishness in implementing economic reforms and a weakening yen, which could cause a depreciation of the local currency.

The board also said it was not clear yet how much business Taiwanese exporters will lose to competitors in China, but it concluded the overall positive factors will be outweighing negative ones in 2002.

Earlier this month, the Finance Ministry, in announcing monthly trade figures, said foreign trade is showing signs of bottoming out and predicted a recovery was imminent.

If based on the daily average value of goods clearing customs for export, which hit $540 million in February, exports rose 0.7% year-on-year in February, for the first time in almost a year.

Due to the global downturn, in particular in demand for computers and other electronic goods, Taiwan's economy last year for the first time in several decades shrank 1.91%.

In its latest forecast, the government predicts the economy will grow 2.29% this year.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Mar 18, 2002
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