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Taiwan pushes forward with stimulus, prepares to relax COVID-19 controls

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After a briefing by the National Development Council on economic development plans for the post-coronavirus era, Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday said that Taiwan's democratic response to the pandemic has emerged as a model for other countries, and that international investment confidence in Taiwan has risen even further. These factors are important fundamental advantages for the nation's future economic development. As it moves forward with economic stimulus, the government will introduce a series of new measures aimed at spurring consumption, reviving retailers and promoting domestic tourism, among other areas. Public works projects will also be accelerated.

The pandemic came as a very serious shock, said the premier. Fortunately, thanks to the collective efforts and unified support of the public, the government was able to initiate advance preparations, ultimately curbing the spread of COVID-19 and thereby limiting the economic impact relative to many other countries. Taiwan's economy grew by 1.54 percent in the first quarter of 2020. This growth put Taiwan among the forefront of global economic performance and at the head of Asia's "four tigers" economies. Furthermore, Business Environment Risk Intelligence, an international risk assessment firm, in a report in May ranked Taiwan's stable investment environment No. 1 in Asia and third globally behind only Switzerland and Norway.

Over the past month, the government has provided relief to 9.5 million people in total: In terms of cash disbursements, approximately NT$70 billion (US$2.3 billion) has been distributed to nearly 3.8 million people in need; these subsidies have also kept more than 30,000 businesses from going under and saved 340,000 workers from losing jobs. In loan assistance, lenders have approved NT$760 billion (US$25.3 billion) worth of loans to help 700,000 individuals and businesses through hard times. As for financial burden relief, assistance measures have helped more than 5 million individuals, households and business owners.

As of Wednesday, Taiwan had gone 45 days consecutive days with zero new cases of local infection. If the nation can continue this streak through June 7 and complete four cycles of the coronavirus's 14-day incubation period with no community transmissions, the government will ease social distancing restrictions across the country while maintaining tight controls at the borders, the premier said.

Taiwan is also set to launch economic stimulus efforts as the third phase of the coronavirus response plan. In addition to pushing bigger, bolder and faster infrastructure projects to stimulate economic and gross domestic product growth, the government will announce a raft of measures to encourage spending and domestic travel while bringing consumers back to shopping areas. The premier instructed government agencies to coordinate reopening efforts and plan thoroughly in advance.

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