Taiwan: Central Bank stands pat in September
At its monetary policy meeting on 17 September, the Board of Directors of Taiwan’s Central Bank unanimously decided to keep the discount rate unchanged at the record low of 1.125%. In addition, the Bank kept the rates on refinancing of secured loans and on temporary accommodations unchanged at 1.50% and 3.375%, respectively. The Board’s decision came in line with market expectations and marked the second consecutive hold after the Bank also stood pat in June.
The Bank’s move chiefly reflected its growing confidence in an economic recovery, as the economy is successfully navigating the Covid-19-related turmoil. Available data suggests that activity is bouncing back firmly in H2 from the blow dealt by the pandemic, amid improving labor market conditions and healthier external demand. Moreover, an increasingly steady inflationary environment—consumer prices fell at a five-month low rate of 0.3% in August, after declining 0.5% in July—further supported the Bank’s decision.
In its communiqué, the Board emphasized that “compared with major economies, Taiwan’s economy is projected to be relatively resilient in both 2020 and 2021”, mainly thanks to strong domestic demand. As a result, the Bank raised its annual growth projections for 2020 from 1.5% to 1.6%, and projects growth to accelerate to 3.3% in 2021. With regard to the inflationary outlook, the Bank reduced its inflation forecast for 2020 to -0.2% (previously reported: 0.0%), but revised its 2021 projections upwards to 0.9% (previously reported: 0.6%), reflecting the expected recovery in demand.
The Bank’s overall tone remained relatively accommodative, as it reiterated its commitment to monitor “the future course of the coronavirus pandemic, monetary policy actions taken by major economies […], the developments concerning the US-China relations, changes in the global financial markets, and the implications thereof for Taiwan’s economy, financial conditions, and price trends”.