Taiwan: Central Bank holds policy stable in December
At its monetary policy meeting on 17 December, the Board of Directors of Taiwan’s Central Bank kept the discount rate unchanged at the record low of 1.125%. In addition, the Bank held the rates on refinancing of secured loans and on temporary accommodations stable at 1.500% and 3.375%, respectively. The move was widely anticipated by market analysts and marked the third consecutive hold after the Bank also stood pat in June and September.
The Bank’s decision was underpinned by a sustained improvement in economic conditions—the island’s economy posted the strongest expansion in nearly four years and GDP returned to pre-pandemic levels in Q3—amid upbeat foreign demand for Taiwanese high-technology exports, meaning further policy easing was not warranted. With regard to prices, inflationary pressures have remained muted in recent months, which, coupled with the gradual appreciation of the Taiwanese dollar, further supported the Bank’s move.
Reflecting the economy’s resilience to the pandemic-induced global downturn, the Bank upwardly revised its short-term economic projections. The Bank now expects GDP to grow 2.6% and 3.7% in 2020 and 2021, respectively, marking a notable improvement from its previous forecasts of 1.6% and 3.3% growth. Meanwhile, the Bank revised down its consumer prices forecast for 2020 to -0.3% (previously reported: -0.2%), but kept its 2021 inflation projection stable at 0.9%, reflecting the expected recovery in consumer demand.
Looking forward, monetary policy is likely to remain broadly unchanged next year as still-subdued inflationary pressures, a strong currency, relatively high public debt levels and the Fed’s ultra-accommodative policy leave the Bank with little room to hike rates, despite accelerating economic growth.