AP News

Taiwan projects slowest GDP growth in 3 years

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan on Wednesday lowered its projected 2012 growth rate for the ninth time, reducing last month's 1.6 percent estimate to 1 percent. That would be the most anemic since 2009, when the island was still mired in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

Officials blame the deteriorating outlook on Europe's debt crisis and slowing growth in China, Taiwan's largest export market.

Weakened foreign demand has hurt Taiwanese exports, which fell 3.9 percent to $223 billion in the first nine months of 2012.

Central Bank Governor Perng Fai-nan this week rejected pleas from the business sector for the bank to step in and stem the rise of the local currency, which makes Taiwanese exports more expensive. Perng said a weaker Taiwan dollar might help bolster exports but would also fan inflation — now running at below 2 percent.

Instead of currency intervention, Perng has touted big investment projects, like a $2.4 billion development unveiled last week by an international conglomerate to build landmark 56- and 76-story twin-towers in downtown Taipei.

Another big project, announced last month, will see the government invest $15.5 billion to upgrade and expand Taiwan's main international airport.

In addition to promoting investment, the government is also speeding up the sale or lease of state property to private developers to make up for the tax revenue shortfall, which has been worsened by dwindling turnover on a lackluster stock market.

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