Taiwan's export growth slowed last month and may ease further this month as the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in the region damps consumer spending in Asia and keeps US and European customers away.
Exports rose 5.6 percent from a year earlier to US$11.47 billion, following a 10 percent gain in March, the Ministry of Finance reported Wednesday. Imports rose 7.1 percent to US$10.43 billion, after rising 7.4 percent in March, the ministry said.
"Exports to Hong Kong and China may have been affected by SARS, the impact will become more obvious in May," the ministry's statistics chief Hsu Kuo-chung (
Exports to China rose 72 percent to US$1.3 billion last month, while shipments to Hong Kong fell 2.3 percent to US$2.53 billion.
Exports to the US, the second-biggest buyer of Taiwanese goods after China, fell 3 percent to US$2.16 billion, and shipments to Japan fell 4.4 percent to US$938 million. Sales to Europe rose 6 percent to $1.62 billion.
Exports of computer chips and other electronics goods, which make up the biggest share of exports, rose 15 percent.
Shipments of mobile phones and other telecommunications goods fell 16 percent, while that of steel and other metal products rose 17 percent, the ministry said.