Year-on-year, the manufacturing sector grew by 8.0 percent, compared to a 11.5 percent growth in the December quarter 2016 and above initial estimates of 6.6 percent. Electronics and precision engineering clusters drove the expansion, namely semiconductors and semiconductor manufacturing equipment. The services producing industries advanced 1.6 percent, compared to a 1.0 percent rise in the prior quarter and slightly higher than preliminary figures of 1.5 percent. Contributions came from wholesale and retail trade, transportation and storage, information & communications, finance and insurance, business services and other services.
In contrast, the construction sector contracted by 1.4 percent, slowing from a 2.8 percent decline in the fourth quarter and compared to earlier figures of a 1.1 percent fall, due to continued weakness in private sector construction works.
For 2017, the government maintained its GDP growth forecast between1 to 3 percent but said the economy will likely grow faster than a 2 percent expansion in 2016, barring any downside risks. Growth in the electronics and precision engineering clusters is expected to be sustained for the rest of the year on the back of the strong recovery in global demand for semiconductors and semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Also, the transportation & storage is likely to benefit from the projected improvement in global trade flows while the information & communications and education, health & social services sectors are estimated to remain resilient.
In 2016, the economy advanced 2 percent, slightly stronger than a 1.9 percent growth in the preceding year.
On a quarterly basis, the GDP shrank an annualised 1.3 percent in the first quarter 2017, following a 12.3 percent growth in the previous three months and less than preliminary estimates of a 1.9 percent drop. It was the fastest contraction since the June quarter 2015, mainly due to a decline in manufacturing (-1.5 percent from 39.8 percent in Q4) and services (-2.1 percent from 8.4 percent).