Premier Su Tseng-chang said on Thursday that Taiwan's timely relief measures will continue as a counter to the expected ongoing global economic impacts brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. While a sizable number of businesses focused on supplying domestic demand are slowly showing signs of mild recovery thanks to government efforts, industries such as manufacturing, tourism and transportation still face considerable headwinds. The premier ordered an immediate inventory of assistance required by stressed enterprises, followed by a special budget proposal to extend economic relief.
Premier Su's remarks came after a briefing by the National Development Council (NDC) on the current states of the domestic and international economies.
Taiwan has now gone 87 days without any confirmed coronavirus cases of local transmission, and a full month has passed since the easing of initial preventative measures on June 7, said the premier. Nevertheless, in the wider world the pandemic remains on the rise, with many countries even recently reporting second waves of infections. Overall the situation abroad is still fairly severe. Premier Su anticipated that until the spread of COVID-19 can be effectively controlled, the global economy will continue to suffer, with multiple nations experiencing negative economic growth amid a sustained downturn in international trade.
As Taiwan is highly reliant on exports, the fortunes of manufacturing and other export-driven industries are closely tied to the health of the global economy. Tight travel restrictions have also hobbled the tourism and transportation sectors. Government agencies should therefore survey the needs of hard-hit industries and draft and submit a proposal to the Legislature for increasing the COVID-19 relief special budget as quickly as possible, the premier said.
The NDC said that the government's relief efforts have effectively cushioned the blow of the pandemic and helped to shore up the economy and stabilize the job market. As of July 1, cash assistance payments totaling NT$92.2 billion (US$3.1 billion) have been distributed to nearly 4.67 million people, while financial loans of NT$1.32 trillion (US$44.6 billion) have been approved to rescue 1.16 million borrowers and ease the burden for 5.79 million individuals, families and businesses.
The Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics estimates that Taiwan's economy grew 1.59 percent in the first quarter of 2020. Following the lifting of a wide array of coronavirus restrictions in early June, domestic demand is expected to return gradually. Taiwan's economic growth is projected to bottom out in the second quarter, likely followed by a rebound over the final half of the year.