Newspaper article China Post

Great Challenges Ahead for Taiwan's Economic Growth

Newspaper article China Post

Great Challenges Ahead for Taiwan's Economic Growth

Article excerpt

The government set an ambitious goal for Taiwan's economic growth for the next four years right after the holiday break. But setting goals is one thing; achieving them is another.

It is ambitious for the government to eye annual growth of 2.5 percent to 3 percent for the four-year period, given that there are so many challenges and uncertainties lying ahead in a world that is becoming unsettled and unpredictable following the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The latest goal set by the National Development Council is lofty compared to the forecast made by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics just a little more than a month ago: that GDP growth for Taiwan in 2017 would only be 1.87 percent.

Why the difference? What has happened over the past 40 days or so that is making the government more optimistic? Or is the government simply making confidence-boosting promises that may be unattainable?

It is true that the Tsai administration can focus more on boosting Taiwan's economic growth now that some of the thorny issues - such as those about the five-day workweek, marriage equality and pension reform - that badgered it in the past six months or so may have become less distracting.

But these controversies are far from over. The impact of the implementation of the five-day workweek on the economy has yet to be fully known.

There may have been progress in the creation of laws enabling marriage equality, but resistance from some quarters of society remains as strong as ever. And the attempt to legalize same-sex marriage does not seem to have the majority support of the nation. Resistance to the government's plan for pension reform - which promises to please almost no one - has also been strong.

Such issues promise to continue to haunt Taiwan this year, although the government clearly does hope to divert the nation's attention to economic issues. And significant economic growth will likely get some of the pressure off the Tsai administration, whose approval ratings have been dropping. But failing to achieve the goal will likely disappoint the nation, giving critics of the government even more ammunition. …

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