Taiwan sees record jump in consumer prices in September

Consumer prices in Taiwan rose 2.63 percent in September from a year earlier, the biggest jump in over eight years, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said Wednesday.

According to the DGBAS, the consumer price index (CPI) climbed 2.63 percent year-on-year in September, which was an eight-year record, driven mainly by an increase in the prices of airline tickets, fruits, vegetables, meat, and clothing.

Month-on-month, the CPI grew 0.17 percent in September, and after seasonal adjustments, the increase was 0.51 percent, the DGBAS said.

In September, the core CPI, which excludes fruits, vegetables, and energy, rose 1.74 percent year-on-year, the biggest gain in almost four years, the DGBAS said.

Transportation and communications expenses posted the largest year-on-year growth of 7.2 percent in September, due to an increase of 32.83 percent in airfares, the DGBAS said.

Taiwan also saw a 24.88 percent surge in fuel prices in September that reflected a relatively low comparison base over the same period last year, but they were offset to some extent by a 9.89 percent drop in communication equipment prices, according to the DGBAS.

The DGBAS data also showed that food prices increased 3.55 percent in September from a year earlier, due mainly to agricultural damage caused by heavy rainfall between June and August.

The prices of vegetables and fruits rose 26.12 percent and 3.27 percent, respectively, while the price of meat increased 5.89 percent, and the cost of aquaculture products climbed 3.16 percent, according to the data.

The cost of a basket of 17 government-monitored household necessities, including rice, pork, bread, eggs, sugar, cooking oil, instant noodles, shampoo and toilet paper, rose 3.31 percent in September from a year earlier, the highest growth in nearly three years, the DGBAS said.

Meanwhile, the wholesale price index (WPI) surged 11.96 percent in September from a year earlier, largely reflecting an increase in the price of base metals, oil and coal products, chemical materials, and drugs, the DGBAS said.

The import price index rose 13.40 percent in September from a year earlier in Taiwan dollar terms and was up 19.95 percent in U.S. dollar terms, while the export price index grew 8.73 percent in Taiwan dollar terms and climbed 15.00 percent in U.S. dollar terms, the data indicated.

In the first nine months of the year, the domestic CPI increased 1.74 percent on average from a year earlier, the data showed.

The CPI growth has breached the government's target of 2 percent several times this year, indicating inflationary pressure, and it hit a 103-month high in September.

Tsao Chih-hung (???), a specialist at the DGBAS, said there should be no concern, however, about long-term inflation, as the CPI spike in September was due mainly to a relatively low comparison base over the same period last year.

Nonetheless, the government should stay alert to the recent huge fluctuations in the prices of international raw materials and energy, as they could affect domestic retail prices, Tsao said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel