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Taiwan's Economy

Economy - overview: 

Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing guidance of investment and foreign trade by government authorities and partial government ownership of some large banks and industrial firms. Real growth in GDP has averaged about 8.5% a year during the past three decades. Export growth has been even faster and has provided the impetus for industrialization. Inflation and unemployment are low, and foreign reserves are the world's third largest. Agriculture contributes less than 3% to GDP, down from 35% in 1952. Traditional labor-intensive industries are steadily being moved offshore and replaced with more capital- and technology-intensive industries. Taiwan has become a major investor in China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The tightening of labor markets has led to an influx of foreign workers, both legal and illegal. Because of its conservative financial approach and its entrepreneurial strengths, Taiwan suffered little compared with many of its neighbors from "the Asian flu" in 1998.


GDP: purchasing power parity—$362 billion (1998 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 4.8% (1998 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity—$16,500 (1998 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

          agriculture: 2.7%
          industry: 35.3%
          services: 62% (1997)


Population below poverty line: NA%


Household income or consumption by percentage share:

          lowest 10%: NA%
          highest 10%: NA%


Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.1% (1998)


Labor force: 9.4 million (1997)


Labor force—by occupation: services 52%, industry 38%, agriculture 10% (1996)


Unemployment rate: 2.7% (1998)



          revenues: $40 billion
          expenditures: $55 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1998 est.)


Industries: electronics, textiles, chemicals, clothing, food processing, plywood, sugar milling, cement, shipbuilding, petroleum refining


Industrial production growth rate: 7% (1997)


Electricity - production: 134.906 billion kWh (1996)


Electricity - production by source:

           fossil fuel: 63.2%
          hydro: 7.1%
          nuclear: 29.7%
          other: 0% (1997)


Electricity - consumption: 134.906 billion kWh (1996)


Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1996)


Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1996)


Agriculture - products: rice, wheat, corn, soybeans, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs, poultry, beef, milk; fish


Exports: $122.1 billion (f.o.b., 1997)


Exports - commodities: machinery and electrical equipment 21.7%, electronic products 14.8%, information/communications 11.8%, textile products 11.6% (1997)


Exports - partners: US 24.2%, Hong Kong 23.5%, Europe 15.1%, Japan 9.6% (1997)


Imports: $114.4 billion (c.i.f., 1997)


Imports - commodities: machinery and electrical equipment 16.5%, electronic products 

16.3%, chemicals 10.0%, precision instrument 5.6% (1997)


Imports - partners: Japan 25.4%, US 20.3%, Europe 18.9%, Hong Kong 1.7% (1997)


Debt - external: $80 million (1997 est.)


Economic aid - recipient: $NA


Currency: 1 New Taiwan dollar (NT$) = 100 cents


Exchange rates: New Taiwan dollars per US$1—32.45 (yearend 1997), 27.5 (1996), 27.4 (1995), 26.2 (1994)


Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June

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