TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan said Thursday its economy grew at its fastest pace in more than 30 years during the first quarter of 2010, thanks to strong demand for exports in markets such as China. The 13.27pc year-on-year jump in gross domestic product cements the islands recovery from its worst economic crisis since World War Two and was helped by a rebound in world trade after the global downturn. The figure, compared with a contraction of more than 9pc in the same period last year, is the highest for Taiwan since the fourth quarter of 1978, the govt said. Taiwans economy has recovered to the level from before the global financial tsunami, said Tsai Hung-kun, chief of statistics at the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics. Taiwans economy also picked up thanks to an increase in domestic demand, in addition to the strong demand from export markets, the agency said. It benefited from strong growth in China and other emerging economies in Asia, it said in a statement released at a news conference in Taipei. Exports expanded 43.7 percent from a year earlier in the first quarter, the agency said. The strong growth was boosted by sharp increases in export orders, said Alex Huang, a Taipei-based analyst at Mega International Investment Services. However, demand in the island of 23 million people was just as important in spurring growth, the agency added. There was a clear rise in consumer confidence (in Taiwan) after the economic environment turned for the better, it said. Private investment also boosted growth, increasing by 37.11 percent in the first quarter, it said. The government raised its forecast for full-year economic growth to 6.14 percent from 4.72 percent previously, according to the agency. The first quarter growth figure was announced as Taiwans China-friendly government prepared to enter a sweeping trade agreement with the mainland. Taiwans export orders from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong combined hit a high of 9.82 billion US dollars in April, a significant rise of 40.7 percent year-on-year, the economic ministry said in a statement. Orders from the United States rose a year-on-year 23.58 percent to 7.08 billion US dollars, the ministry said, while orders from six of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations surged 47.05 percent to 3.21 billion US dollars. The government in Taipei aims to sign the pact with Beijing next month, saying it will bring growth and employment to Taiwan , but the opposition argues it will have the opposite effect and make the island more dependent on China. The rapid rise in the first three months was to some extent inevitable, following last years dismal performance, observers said. Taiwans economy shrank 1.91 percent in 2009, according to revised data published Thursday. Growth in the first quarter was unusually high, but it was mainly due to the low comparison base last year, said Antony Chang, an economics professor at Taipeis Shih Chien University. Taiwans economy contracted by a record 9.06 percent in the first quarter of 2009, as the island was hammered by falling demand for its exports due to the global crisis.