At the Cabinet's weekly meeting Thursday, Premier Su Tseng-chang received a National Development Council briefing on economic trends for 2022. Over the past year, the Cabinet team worked side by side with the people of Taiwan to keep COVID-19 at bay while creating another economic miracle. Nevertheless, we still face many challenges in the new year ahead, the premier said, such as new COVID variants, inflationary pressure, and global requirements for net-zero emissions. The Cabinet will continue to work hard to maintain Taiwan's key position on the world stage.
As COVID ravaged other countries around the world, Taiwan not only held the line in the fight against the pandemic but also maintained strong economic growth in 2021: The economy is estimated to have grown by over 6 percent, marking an 11-year high. Taiwan's GDP per capita exceeded US$30,000 for the first time ever, and based on purchasing power parity, we ranked No. 8 compared with the 38 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development—placing ahead of Japan, South Korea, and even outperforming the U.K., France, Germany and Australia, the premier said.
Regarding foreign trade, Taiwan's total export value and export orders for the first 11 months of 2021 surpassed US$400 billion and US$600 billion, respectively, both historic highs and marking 17 and 21 consecutive months of positive growth. As for investments, total approved investment under the Three Major Programs for Investing in Taiwan exceeded NT$1.6 trillion (US$57.9 billion), the premier said, and the implementation of approved public construction funds was the highest in 14 years. Domestic investment as a percentage of GDP also reached a 21-year high. Regarding consumption, in November the turnover in the retail and restaurant sectors set new historical and same-month highs, respectively, while the unemployment rate for the month was the lowest in 21 years.
The premier also said that in her New Year address, President Tsai Ing-wen announced the four pillars of our plan for stable governance in 2022: continuing our global engagement, maintaining our economic momentum, strengthening our social security network, and safeguarding our nation's sovereignty. Going forward, in addition to continuing to assist industry transformation and upgrading, improve the investment environment, and promote the Three Major Programs for Investing in Taiwan, the government will also diversify our international trade and economic engagement, and continue talks with the United States under the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to strengthen Taiwan-U.S. trade ties. We must also make legal and institutional preparations for our application to become a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, win the support of current member states while also formulating appropriate plans and complementary measures for vulnerable industries, and strengthen the competitiveness of domestic industries so that Taiwan can expand internationally.