Premier Su Tseng-chang touted Taiwan's response to COVID-19 Thursday, saying the nation not only conquered the virus but saw increasing domestic demand thanks to a battery of economic stimulus measures. It is one of very few countries in the world that has managed to maintain a positive rate of economic growth, he said.
The premier's comments followed a National Development Council briefing on Taiwan's overall economy. Ministries and agencies should continue pushing the stimulus measures to protect the economy and allow more people to enjoy the fruits of economic growth, he added.
Under an aggressive coronavirus campaign, Taiwan has not seen a locally transmitted case in 207 days. This achievement was reported last week in Bloomberg news and Time magazine as "the world's best virus record" and one that "makes Taiwan [the] world's envy." Both outlets also featured lengthy analyses of what Taiwan did right. These and other instances of recognition from the world community were hard won, the premier said.
In addition to disease-prevention measures, Taiwan implemented a raft of economic relief and stimulus policies in the immediate wake of the outbreak. So far, the relief measures have benefitted some 13.44 million people, kept more than 120,000 businesses from going under, and saved jobs for 1.1 million workers. The nation's unemployment rate dropped to 3.83 percent in September, the lowest seen in six months.
Government stimulus efforts have also been successful in driving domestic demand and consumer spending, Premier Su said. Operating revenues for the retail sector in August and September, and for restaurants and catering businesses in September, hit historical highs. Production value indices for industry and manufacturing in September both rose 11 percent year-over-year, representing eight consecutive months of positive growth, with both sectors recording new single-months highs. The value of exports and export orders have been strong, as well.
As for investment, the government's three major investment incentive programs aimed at overseas and domestically based Taiwanese have already drawn over NT$1.1 trillion (US$37.9 billion) in investments, the premier said. Foreign investors are optimistic and have also been increasing positions. The scope and pace of public infrastructure projects are being expanded, as well, with a budget of nearly NT$520 billion (US$17.9 billion) this year. Not only does this figure represent an NT$80 billion (US$2.8 billion) bump from 2019, but the budget completion rate of 61.2 percent as of September also marks a 12-year high.
According to numbers released by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics on October 30, Taiwan's GDP growth hit 3.33 percent in the third quarter and 1.66 percent over 2020's first three quarters combined. Premier Su noted that this performance puts Taiwan among the very small minority of the world's nations that have been able to maintain upward trajectories, and at the top of Asia's four tiger economies. He directed all ministries and agencies to continue working together to guarantee a strong comeback for the domestic economy by aggressively promoting government stimulus measures and building a record of successively positive accomplishments.