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Taiwan ranks seventh in BlackRock Sovereign Risk Index

TAIPEI--Taiwan has moved up one notch to seventh in the latest quarterly BlackRock Sovereign Risk Index (BSRI) and finished second among Asian countries behind Singapore.

The quarterly update showed that Taiwan improved one place in the rankings from eighth in January and back to the position it held in the two surveys before that mainly because it had the second highest score among emerging countries in the “willingness to pay” category.

It also finished eighth in the world in the “fiscal space” category, which gauges a country's debt burden, and third in the “external finance position” indicator.

But Taiwan was not seen as being without weaknesses, finishing 45th of 48 countries in the “financial sector health” category, which gauges the banking system's strength.

The three countries deemed to have the lowest sovereign risk in the first quarter survey were Norway, Singapore and Switzerland.

Within Asia, Taiwan trailed only Singapore but finished ahead of South Korea (13th), Malaysia (16th), China (17th), the Philippines (24th), Thailand (26th), Japan (33rd), and Indonesia (36th).

Japan actually rose two notches. BlackRock said Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe's easy monetary policy and aggressive moves against deflation sent a clear message of reform, prompting gains in the “willingness to pay” category that made up for losses in other categories.

Indonesia fell three notches, the biggest decline of any country in the survey, mainly because of worsening scores in the “financial sector health” and “willingness to pay” indicators.

Investors seemed to ignore the warning signals, however, as shares in Indonesia recorded the second highest surge among emerging markets in the first quarter, after the Philippines, said BlackRock, a New York-based multinational investment management corporation.

The BSRI was developed through the BlackRock Investment Institute in June 2011 in recognition of the growing focus by investors around the world on sovereign risk debt.

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