Taiwan Forecasts Recession, Plans to Create 100,000 Jobs

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Taiwan Forecasts Recession, Plans to Create 100,000 Jobs
[Ying-jeou Ma]

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou

The global financial crisis hurt Taiwan in the third and fourth quarters, Mr. Ma said. "We already see a recession. This will extend to the first quarter next year," he said.

To weather the downturn, the government plans to create at least 100,000 jobs by the middle of 2009, hoping domestic demand will sustain the island's economic growth, Mr. Ma said in a speech to members of the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents Club.

"In emergencies like this, an economic downturn rarely seen in decades, we have to take drastic measures. ... Let's get fiscal," Mr. Ma said.

As such, the government hasn't abandoned its "633" goal, Mr. Ma said. During his election campaign, Mr. Ma said he would boost annual gross domestic product growth to 6% in four years, aim to raise the island's per-capita gross domestic product to US$30,000 in eight years and cut the jobless rate to 3%.

The government forecasts Taiwan's per-capita GDP this year will be US$17,536 and the unemployment rate 4.01%.

Taiwan's economy shrank 1.02% in the third quarter from a year earlier, the first contraction in more than five years, as domestic and external demand weakened.

The government now expects GDP to fall 1.73% in the fourth quarter, followed by a drop of 0.31% in the first quarter of 2009.

Mr. Ma said he expects domestic demand to be the main driver of the island's economy and make up 60% of GDP next year.

"Mainland China's economy is shrinking. ... We can't rely on China only," said Mr. Ma. "So we have to expand domestic demand."

He also said he expects Taiwan's foreign trade to be "negative" in the next few months.

Taiwan's exports in October fell 8.3% from a year earlier in their biggest drop in nearly four years.

Shipments to almost all of the island's largest export markets slid during the month, led by sharply weaker demand for flat panels.

In October, exports to China and Hong Kong combined -- the island's largest export market -- dropped 19.9% from a year earlier to US$7.47 billion, after falling 16.3% in Septemb

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