TAIPEI - Taiwan's economy will grow at its fastest pace in seven years in 2021, the statistics office said, upgrading its economic outlook as a strong rebound in exports and demand for chips helps the island shake off the blow from the coronavirus crisis. Gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to expand 4.64% this year, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said on Saturday, up from a forecast made in November for 3.83% growth, which would also have been its fastest since 2014. The revision came as the statistics office roughly doubled its export growth forecast for this year, with global demand for the island's technology products buoyed by a work-from-home boom during the COVID-19 pandemic. GDP rose by a revised 5.09% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the strongest quarterly growth in a decade and up from a preliminary reading of 4.94%, the agency added, as Taiwan's economy performed better than many regional peers. It also revised up GDP for last year to 3.11%, from an initial 2.98%, the first time Taiwan grew faster than its giant neighbour and largest trading partner China in a full-year since 1990. The agency said the COVID-19 pandemic has brought strong global demand for electronics, thanks to the growing need for people to work and study from home to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections. Taiwan's semiconductor firms will continue to expand investments at home to provide chips for 5G, cars and high speed computing, it added. Consumption this year is expected to grow 3.74%, the fastest pace in 17 years, the department said. Taiwan has effectively controlled the coronavirus with 943 infections to date, the majority imported, and only 40 active cases being treated in hospital. While the island has not gone into total lockdown to contain the virus due to successful measures that prevented its rapid spread, Taiwan's borders remain largely closely. Taiwan's electronics exports are a bellwether of demand for global tech giants such as Apple Inc. The statistics agency forecast exports in 2021 would rise 9.58% compared with last year, double a previous prediction of 4.59%. REUTERS
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