TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s trade-dependent economy likely grew faster in the fourth quarter than the third thanks to strong domestic consumption and a rebound in exports, a Reuters poll showed on Monday.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to have expanded 4.35% in the October-December period versus a year earlier, the poll of 22 economists showed. GDP grew 2.32% year-on-year in the third quarter.

The economists’ forecasts for preliminary GDP data due on Wednesday varied widely from an expansion of just 1.5% to as much as 6.5%.

Taiwan’s exports emerged from a year-long decline in September.

Fourth-quarter exports rose 3.4% versus the same period in 2022, compared with the third quarter’s annual contraction of 5.1%, while the island’s trade surplus leapt an on-year 131% in the final three months of the year.

Domestic consumption has also bounced back well following the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, restaurant chain Wowprime said it aims to hire some 400 new employees in the first quarter given booming demand.

“Fourth-quarter growth was mainly because of good private consumption, and the trade surplus wasn’t bad either,” said Kevin Wang, an analyst at Taishin Securities Investment Advisory.

Economists at DBS wrote last week they expected a strong recovery this year and that GDP would expand 3.5%, positioning Taiwan among the outperformers in Asia.

The government’s statistics bureau said in November it expected full-year 2023 growth of 1.42%, its slowest pace in 14 years and lower than the 2.45% growth for 2022.

The economy in China, Taiwan’s largest export market, grew an on-year 5.2% in the fourth quarter, quickening from 4.9% in the third quarter but missing a 5.3% forecast in a Reuters poll.

Taiwan is a key hub in the global technology supply chain for giants such as Apple and Nvidia, as well as home to the world’s largest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

Taiwan’s preliminary GDP reading will be released in a statement with minimal commentary. Revised figures will be released a few weeks later, with more details and forward-looking forecasts.

(Poll compiled by Milounee Purohit and Anant Chandak; Reporting by Faith Hung and Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Jeanny Kao; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

Brought to you by