Taiwan extends recession as exports fall again

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TAIPEI: Taiwan’s economy shrank in the first quarter of 2016, figures showed Friday, prolonging a recession that began last year, as exports fell by double digits.

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Sagging global demand for the island’s high tech goods, along with growing competition from China in its mainstay smartphone and computer hardware sectors was dragging on growth, officials said.

GDP fell by 0.84 percent in the three months through March, the government said, with exports sliding more than 12 percent.

“Demand from the international market is weak, while the effect from China’s policy to build an independent supply chain continues,” the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said.

Taiwan has now seen three consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP. Economists consider two quarters of negative growth to be a recession.

There were some positive signs, with domestic demand rising slightly, and a 16 percent bounce in the number of tourists coming to the island.

After decades of hostility, recent years have seen Taiwan welcoming a growing number of Chinese tourists.

But the election earlier this year of independence-leaning Tsai Ing-wen, who takes office in May, could put a spoke in the wheel, with Beijing warning against any move away from the mainland.

Taiwan and China have been governed separately since a civil war in 1949.

While the island has a strong sense of its own identity, Beijing considers it a renegade province that must one day be reunited.

AFP

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