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Taiwan's economy slows in fourth quarter 2014

[TAIPEI] Taiwan's economic growth slowed in the three months to December in 2014 due to lower-than-expected overseas demand for goods and weaker domestic spending, government estimates showed on Friday.

The Taiwanese economy grew 3.17 per cent in the fourth quarter year-on-year, lower than the previous three quarters but better than a forecast of 2.83 per cent made in November, said the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics.

Exports in the period rose only 0.45 per cent as declining demand for gasoline, diesel and plastic products cancelled out growth in electronic goods, machinery and metals, the agency said.

Private consumption grew a lower-than-expected 2.33 per cent in the last quarter, hit by several food scandals.

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This was despite a string of new smartphones boosting retailers and campaign spending for Taiwan's local elections in November, it said.

Full-year GDP growth for 2014 was estimated at 3.51 per cent, higher than a November forecast of 3.43 per cent, putting Taiwan on course to enjoy its best 12 months since 2011.

Last year Taiwan's economic growth was buoyed by a steady recovery in developed countries as well as record-high exports and rising domestic consumption.

Exports rose 2.7 per cent year-on-year to a record high of US$313.84 billion in 2014, helped by booming demand for electronics products including Apple's iPhone 6. A number of leading Taiwanese firms such as Foxconn and TSMC are reportedly among Apple's suppliers.

But the strong growth weakened towards the end of the year, dipping 2.8 per cent in December for the first time since the start of the year, owing to shrinking demand in most overseas markets, the government said.