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POLL-Taiwan likely to stand pat as economy weathers pandemic

* reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=cpurl://apps.cp./Apps/cb-polls?RIC=TWINTR%3DECI poll data

* Rates likely to be kept unchanged, all economists polled say

* Benchmark discount rate currently at 1.125%, lowest on record

* Economy expected to rebound strongly next year

* Rate decision Thursday, Sept 17, after 4:00 p.m. (0800 GMT)

TAIPEI, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Taiwan’s central bank will likely keep its policy rate steady at a record low this week as the economy weathers the coronavirus pandemic far better than its regional peers, supported by a rebound in exports, a Reuters poll showed on Monday.

The central bank is expected to keep the benchmark discount rate steady at 1.125% on Thursday, all 17 economists in the poll said, after holding fire at its June quarterly meeting. It cut the rate in March.

Taiwan’s export-reliant economy has been supported by global demand for tech products from an increasing number of people working from home during the pandemic. That trend is expected to continue and help underpin a rapid economic recovery in 2021.

The meeting comes as major central banks have been holding interest rates steady after delivering ample monetary stimulus earlier this year to shore up economies ravaged by the pandemic.

“Although there are still uncertainties about the pandemic and economic recovery, Taiwan’s announced economic data is still stable, and moreover major global central banks have not further loosened policy,” said Cathay Financial economic research division director Carl Liu.

While Taiwan’s economy will likely slow to its weakest in five years in 2020, as the pandemic hits consumption and tourism, it is expected to rebound next year on improved demand for the island’s exports.

The economy is expected to grow 3.92% next year, its fastest pace since 2014, the statistics office said in August, citing a “significant recovery” in external demand and manufacturers moving production home from China amid a supply chain reshuffle following Sino-U.S. tensions and the pandemic.

The central bank will give its first forecast for economic growth next year on Thursday.

It has also said it plans to save its firepower to be able to cut rates if there is a sharper economic downturn due to the pandemic.

The government is rolling out a T$1.05 trillion ($35.89 billion) stimulus package this year.

Taiwan’s manufacturers are a key part of the global supply chain for technology giants such as Apple Inc. ($1 = 29.2570 Taiwan dollars) (Reporting by Carol Lee, Liang-sa Loh and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)