Think tanks forecast increase in export growth on back of global recovery


TAIPEI–Think tanks in Taiwan made predictions yesterday that global recovery will drive the country’s export growth to accelerate in the second half of this year from the tepid numbers seen in 2013.

Efforts made by local exporters to shift from developed markets to emerging markets and work on strategic alliances with their local counterparts could additionally mean positive results from the second half of the year.

Taiwan’s exports in 2013 rose only 0.7 percent from a year earlier to US$303.22 billion, far short of the 5.5 percent growth target previously set by the Bureau of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Largely in reflection of the anemic growth in exports, the government has expected Taiwan’s gross domestic product to show only 1.73 percent for 2013, a downward revision from an earlier forecast of 2.31 percent.

Gordon Sun, director of the Macroeconomic Forecasting Center at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, noted that the U.S. economy could be overshadowed by political struggles in the first half of this year as Congress could renew a fight over the debt ceiling.

As a result, Taiwan’s exports to the U.S., which accounted for 10.7 percent of total outbound sales last year, are likely to remain slow until the second half of next year.

Sun noted that many Taiwanese exporters are pushing to sharpen their competitive edge by working with strategic partnerships to penetrate the global market, adding their efforts are likely to pay off in the second half of this year or in the first half of next year.

He said the establishment of strategic alliances in Taiwan is a good approach for taking on foreign conglomerates, such as South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co.

The economist said that many Taiwanese manufacturers are turning to value-added products which emphasize services to attract buyers, while others have shifted attention from the U.S. and Europe to target emerging markets. He expected such policy changes will start to benefit the local export sector in the second half of this year.

The Yuanta-Polaris Research Institute said that Taiwan’s imports in December rose 10.1 percent from a year earlier while exports fell 1.9 percent over the same period, indicating the high-tech sector and other local manufacturers bought into production equipment and materials for expansion to meet future demand.

The think tank said that with the global economy on the way to a recovery, Taiwan’s exports will grow at a mild pace later in the year.

Yuanta-Polaris also warned, however, that the country’s exports for January could continue the downtrend seen in December as the number of working days in the month will be cut short by the Lunar New Year holiday.