Taiwan records 30th straight quarter of net financial account outflow

Taipei, Feb. 24 (CNA) Taiwan has recorded a net outflow in its financial account for the 30th consecutive quarter as of the fourth quarter of last year, the longest run in the country's history, according to the central bank.

Citing data, the central bank said Taiwan's net outflow in its financial account for the October-December period totaled US$21.06 billion, bringing the aggregate net fund outflow to US$354.07 billion or NT$10.57 trillion, which is equivalent to the cost of building 182 Taipei 101 towers and 23 high speed rail systems.

For the entire 2017, Taiwan saw a net outflow in its financial account, which measures the flow of direct investment and portfolio investments. The net outflow last year totaled US$68.64 billion, an annual record high.

Net portfolio investments held overseas by Taiwanese people in the fourth quarter, meanwhile, rose by US$16.21 billion from a year earlier, with local insurance firms raising their holdings in securities and bonds in foreign markets, according to the bank.

At the same time, net portfolio investments held by foreign investors residing in Taiwan increased by US$1.89 billion, the central bank said.

Again, the continued outflow in Taiwan's financial account fueled mounting concerns that investors will keep moving funds out of the country and into U.S. dollar denominated assets.

But the central bank dismissed the concerns, saying Taiwan is one of the few countries in the world to record a long term current account surplus and such countries tend to register net outflows on their financial accounts.

Other countries with a long term current account surplus and net outflows on their financial account include: China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Germany, Malaysia and Russia, the central bank said.

The current account mainly measures a country's merchandise and service exports.

Taiwan's current account surplus for the fourth quarter hit US$26.58 billion, up US$7.06 billion or 36.2 percent from a year earlier, on the back of rising global demand at a time when the world's economy was on the path to recovery, according to Tsai Chiung-ming (???), deputy director of the central bank's economic research department.

Tsai said the higher current account surplus also reflected a spike in raw material prices in the global market.

In the fourth quarter, Taiwan enjoyed a surplus of US$23.22 billion in merchandise trade, up US$4.03 billion from a year earlier, while the country suffered a deficit of US$1.26 billion in service income which was down US$890 million from a year earlier, the central bank's data showed.

Tsai said the decline in Taiwan's deficit in service income largely resulted from a fall in expenses made by Taiwanese firms and individuals to buy intellectual property rights.

In terms of travel income, Taiwan recorded a deficit of US$650 million in the fourth quarter, sharply down from US$2.17 billion over the same period a year earlier. But the country recorded a deficit in travel income for the eighth consecutive quarter.

For 2017, Taiwan's surplus in its current account totaled US$84.09 billion, a new record high, which accounted for 14.7 percent of the country's gross domestic product in the year, the central bank said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel