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Taiwan's Dec. CPI Growth Hits 10-month Low

Jan 26, 2015 | By CENS

Taiwan's consumer price indices (CPI) of 370 commodities inched up only 0.61% in December from the same month of 2013, the lowest growth rate in 10 months, mostly due to plummeting fuel prices, according to the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting, and Statistics (DGBAS) of the executive ministry.

DGBAS' statistics show the island's fuel and lubricant prices slumped 21.07% year-on-year in December, the steepest drop in 65 months, moderating the impact of the 4.34%, 11.56%, 9.27% and 4.48% increases in food, vegetable, meat prices, and dining-out expenditures, respectively.

The increase in dining-out expenditures marked a sixth-month 4-percent-plus trend.

DGBAS officials forecast the island's inflation rate to stay sub-1 percent throughout 2015 mostly due to plummeting crude oil prices although the depreciating NT-dollar makes greenback-priced imports more costly in Taiwan.

Compared to a month earlier, Taiwan's CPI in December slumped 0.36% primarily due to the 9.40% and 2.93% drops in fuel and lubricant prices and garment prices, respectively. Water, electricity and propane prices went down 1.45% whereas vegetable prices rose 4.11% month on month in December.

DGBAS officials say the prices of 17 essential consumer staples, including milk powder, pork, and flour, rose annually 4.55% in December, a 10-month low, although pork price surged once in 2014.

Throughout 2014, Taiwan's CPI rose 1.20%, slightly lower than South Korea's 1.3% but  marginally higher than Singapore's 1.1%, according to DGBAS, which attributes such  increase mostly to the surge in meat price and dining-out cost, both of which have stabilized.

In annual term, DGBAS officials estimate each household in Taiwan spent an additional NT$8,640 (US$270) in 2014 with median NT$720,000 (US$22,500) expenditure yearly, with dining-out costs rising NT$2,610 (US$81.56) and outlay on commuting and communication dropping NT$1,261 (US$39.40).

The directorate general's statistics show that low-income families are much more susceptible to surges in food prices than high-income families since food accounts for 30% of their income versus 20% of high-income families. For instance, in 2014, some 20% of the island's lowest-income families suffered 1.54% increase in CPI, compared with 1.06% increase for the top-20% high-income households.

DGBAS officials believe the continuing drop in crude oil prices to moderate the impact of the depreciating NT-dollar, which boosts prices of the island's commodity imports, to likely confine CPI increase for 2015 under 1%. An additional 0.08% in CPI decrease will come this year from  Taiwan Power Co.'s planned NT$800 (US$25) cut in electricity bill for each customer.
(KL)

CPI Growth in Major Asian Nations in Recent Years
                                                       unit:%




Taiwan
Japan
South Korea
Singapore
 China
2011
1.42
-0.3
4.0
5.3
5.4
2012
1.93
0.0
2.2
4.5
2.7
2013
0.79
0.4
1.3
2.4
2.6
2014
1.20
2.8
1.3
1.1
2.0
Source: DGBAS


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