Thu, Jul 08, 2004 - Page 10 News List

First trade deficit in four years blamed on rising oil prices

By Tina Yuan  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

The nation had a trade deficit of US$202.6 million last month, its first deficit since March 2000, due to soaring oil prices and the purchase of three airplanes by China Airlines (華航), the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

Exports jumped 24.5 percent year-on-year last month to US$14.44 billion after growing 39.5 percent to US$15.71 billion in May, the ministry said.

Imports rose 42.6 percent year-on-year to US$14.64 billion last month, compared with a 52.5 percent increase to US$14.5 billion in May, the ministry said.

Though exports last month rose less than expected, "In terms of absolute value, June exports are the third highest in recent years," said Hsu Kuo-chung (許國忠), director of the ministry"s statistics department.

"June exports rose less than expected because by last June the nation had already recovered from SARS and had a higher base than last April and May," Hsu said.

China's measures to rein in its overheating economy seemed to have little impact, he said.

Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫), a research director at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (台經院), said that the slowdown in export growth last month -- compared with the previous two months -- could not be blamed on seasonal factors or China's belt-tightening measures.

"The value of June exports is pretty high," Kung said. "We are still studying whether China's cooling-off policy will have an effect."

Hong Kong and China remained the two largest export markets.

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