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GDP growth for '13 to hit 3-4%: MOEA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The government expects 2013 GDP to grow roughly 3 to 4 percent, aided by anticipated export growth of 5.5 percent, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said yesterday.

The figures were compiled from statistics from the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS), the IMF, the World Bank and several international economic research institutes including Global Insight, and released at the Ministry of Economic Affairs' (MOEA) year-end conference.

Exports to Power Growth

The minister said the nation's current economic downturn is very likely to turn around next year due to a stronger export market. He noted that the current economic recession is a result of market variables such as weak domestic consumption and lackluster export demand, as well as the fact that most international demand for Taiwan-made products focuses on the high-tech sector.

Shih said that the MOEA has been negotiating business partnerships with Asian trade partners and hopes to soon finalize several agreements with major partners. Among these are mainland China, through the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), and with South Korea and Japan through free trade agreements (FTA).

The MOEA remains optimistic about next year's export growth, and looks forward to making the most of trade potential in the emerging market, the minister said. He added that the government is planning to set up new branches and business centers in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states.

The nation's exports totaled US$275 billion in the first 11 months of 2012, decreasing 3.3 percent from a year earlier, and are not expected to see a major increase by the end of the year. The minister said that the MOEA will help local businesses secure more export orders in the international market even though the global economic decline has not yet been reversed.

Expanding Trade Zone Expectations

Regarding the country's investment condition, according to the MOEA's Department of Investment Services, once the ASEAN+6 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) finalizes its first agreement in early 2013, with completion expected by 2015, Taiwan will be tied to the largest free trade zone in the world, covering a population of 3 billion people. The MOEA said the government will assist local manufacturers to adjust to new market trends while exploring potential business opportunities.

Annual Review, Future Development

Shih also listed 2013 targets to include the continued development of core industries while promoting the growth of energy industries, and moving to lower power and water costs for businesses.

Regarding the MOEA's overall performance in promoting the economic growth, local media asked the minister how he would grade himself for the contribution made this year. He said, “I will not grade this myself but will leave it to the public's judgment.”

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