Taiwan's economy forecast to grow 2.42% in 2018

Taipei, March 11 (CNA) Taiwan's real gross domestic product (GDP) is predicted to grow by an annual 2.42 percent in 2018 due to stable economic growth, a minimum wage hike and a salary increase for public sector employees, according to a report compiled by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).The report has already been submitted to the Legislature and on Monday DGBAS head Chu Tzer-ming will summarize its findings and answer questions from members of the Legislative Yuan's Finance Committee.The report notes that based on forecasts from London-based information company IHS Markit Ltd. and the International Monetary Fund, global economic growth will rise from 3.35 to 4.6 percent this year. The improvement in foreign demand is expected to continue and help boost Taiwan's growth.However, with the relatively high comparison base, the pace of GDP growth is forecast to slow.In terms of domestic demand, the steady growth of the domestic economy, improving job market, hike in basic wages and salary increases for public sector employees and some private enterprises workers mean the consumer market can expect a boost, according to the report.In addition, expanded investment by leading semiconductor companies in next-generation advanced process technologies and the government's introduction of programs for the development of innovative industries will help bolster investment in the country. On this basis, the DGBAS has upgraded its economic growth forecast for 2018 from the 2.29 percent increase it projected in November last year to 2.42 percent, according to the report.On the overall job market, Chu said the supply of manpower aged 15 and above in January numbered 11.84 million, up 74,000 from the same period of last year.In January, the number of employed in Taiwan totaled 11.41 million, up 89,000 from a year earlier, while the number of unemployed was 430,000, down 15,000 year-on-year, the DGBAS said.Meanwhile, the jobless rate fell 0.15 percentage points in January from a year earlier to 3.63 percent, the lowest level since May 2015, when it was 3.62 percent, the DGBAS data showed.Taiwan's consumer price index (CPI) for January and February rose 1.54 percent from a year earlier, according to the data.