The Taiwan Institute of Economic Research cut its forecast for GDP growth for 2015 to 0.83%, from 3.11% projected in July, as private consumption failed to benefit from energy cost savings and exports dropped due to the global economic slowdown. The Institute expects Taiwan’s export-oriented economy to fare better in 2016, with a 1.84% expansion. However, the economy is forecast to remain moderate until after Q1. The government announced an increase in the eligibility threshold for supplementary insurance premiums. Under the current system, people with rental income, interest income, stock dividend income or professional fees exceeding NT$5,000 (US$153) per month must pay a 2% premium on the additional revenue.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the threshold will be raised to NT$20,000 (US$612). The move, due to start in 2016, is expected to benefit 3.42 million people. It will also cut the National Health Insurance Administration’s income by NT$4.2 billion per year, leading to a deficit by 2017. The government plan is therefore seen by many as aimed at pleasing the public ahead of January’s presidential election. In the World Health Organization’s four-level categorization of cancer-causing agents, estrogen is listed under the highest level, where human exposure to the compound may lead to increased risk of breast cancer or endometrial cancer. As such, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration has decided to ban certain components of estrogen in cosmetics and personal care products, starting from mid-2016.

Estrogen is currently on Taiwan’s list of controlled substances, which requires manufacturers and importers to possess a permit for use. The new policy follows recent bans on estrogen in cosmetics by governments worldwide. The EU, United States, Canada and Mainland China have already introduced restrictions due to concerns that the substance may cause cancer and contribute to pollution.