Tue, May 06, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Analysts question predicted decline in nation's exports

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Market watchers yesterday said a prediction by Taiwan's top trade official that July exports may plummet as a result of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was off the mark.

Board of Foreign Trade (BOFT) Director-General Huang Chih-peng (黃志鵬) said on Sunday that July exports may drop more than 25 percent compared to July last year because of SARS. Huang also warned that the country's annual exports would see zero percent or single-digit growth should the disease fail to be controlled quickly.

"It's a bold estimation," Mike Lin (林智清), consultant to the Taipei Computer Association, told the Taipei Times yesterday.

Lin said although the outbreak of SARS had forced a fair amount of business activity to be cancelled or delayed, the impact on the IT industry is limited to the promotion of new products. Orders of popular products and components should remain steady, he said.

According to the Ministry of Finance, IT exports in March accounted for 10 percent of total exports. For the first three months of this year, export orders rose 10.17 percent to US$37.67 billion from a year earlier, the ministry reported late last month.

Wu Chung-shu (吳中書), a research fellow at Academia Sinica's Institute of Economics (中央研究院經濟研究所), said the travel industry, rather than exporters, would suffer the most from the SARS outbreak.

"The production of export goods won't be hurt that much as long demand is stable," Wu said.

Another economist, Chang Yaw-tzong (張耀宗) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Department of Statistics, said that exports may dip, but foreign orders for postwar construction in Iraq may offset that drop somewhat. In addition, Taiwan has already seen some orders from SARS-hit regions such as China and Vietnam transfer to Taiwanese manufacturers, Chang said.

Huang's pessimistic forecast, however, was supported by another industry watcher yesterday.

Tsai Horng-ming (蔡宏明), deputy secretary general of Chinese National Federation of Industries (中華民國全國工業總會) said that his association had previously calculated SARS would trigger a 20 to 30 percentage point drop in exports. The fall was exacerbated by lost export orders to China, where SARS has swept across many of its provinces, he said.

This story has been viewed 2297 times.
TOP top