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UPDATE 1-Taiwan expects short-term coronavirus impact on exports

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TAIPEI, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Taiwan's first-quarter exports will suffer short-term impact from China's coronavirus outbreak, a Finance Ministry official said on Friday, adding that she is cautious but not pessimistic about the full-year outlook.

Taiwan sends about 40% of its exports to China but has been trying to wean itself off dependence on its giant neighbour.

Beatrice Tsai, head of the ministry's department of statistics, told reporters in Taipei that February exports are "difficult" to estimate owing to a lack of clarity about when people in China will be permitted to return to work.

But Tsai said that February exports could rise by about 20% year on year, with the comparison helped by last year's Lunar New Year holiday falling in February, meaning there were fewer work days in the month.

China has extended this year's week-long Lunar New Year holiday, which had been due to end in late January, to help prevent the spread of a virus.

Taiwan's January exports fell by a worse than forecast 7.6% year on year.

(Reporting by Roger Tung Writing by Ben Blanchard Editing by David Goodman)