Tue, Aug 10, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Exports continue to climb

NO SLOWDOWN YET Exports surged 26 percent last month, in the ninth consecutive month of gains, led by orders for semiconductors, cellphones and computers

STAFF WRITER WITH BLOOMBERG

Taiwan's exports rose last month as orders for computers, mobile phones and semiconductors increased, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement yesterday.

Shipments advanced 26.1 percent from a year earlier to US$14.66 billion, the ministry said. Imports increased 32.9 percent to US$13.77 billion. The trade surplus narrowed 29.4 percent to US$892.4 million last month from a year earlier, the ministry added. That figure was compared with the nation's US$202.6 million deficit in June, the first trade deficit since March 2000.

In the first seven months of this year, the nation's trade surplus reached US$4.79 billion, down 46.9 percent from a year earlier. Exports in the seven-month period rose 25.7 percent to US$98.61 billion, while imports increased 35.2 percent to US$93.82 billion.

"We are not seeing any signs of a slowdown," Hsu Kuo-chung (許國忠), director of the statistics department at the finance ministry, said at a press conference yesterday.

Both exports and imports have registered double-digit year-on-year growth for nine consecutive months since November last year, and the government will probably raise its export growth forecast for this year from 17 percent when it reports second-quarter economic growth at the end of next week, said Hsu.

Rising demand for exports is likely to help the nation to lift economic growth further as unemployment becomes less of a worry and financial institutions are more willing to lend.

The nation's top economic think tank, Academia Sinica, last month revised upwards its economic forecast for the nation. It predicts growth of 5.76 percent this year, up from the 4.35 percent growth predicted in December. The private think tank Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research last month also revised its forecast upward to 5.35 percent from 4.67 percent.

Exports of computer chips and other electronic parts, which make up the biggest share of the country's overseas sales, rose 40 percent to US$3.4 billion last month after surging 36 percent in June.

"These numbers are encouraging, but headwinds are growing and Taiwan's export growth may slow down," said Robert Subbaraman, senior economist at Lehman Brothers Japan Inc in Tokyo. "We are worried that technology industry demand may slow down in the second half."

The nation's exports of information technology and communications products fell 7.4 percent to US$934 million last month, the ministry said in the statement. The Semiconductor Industry Association, based in San Jose, California, said this month it expects growth in global semiconductor sales to slow going forward. Even so, it predicts sales will be a record US$214 billion this year.

Hong Kong and China remained the two largest export markets for Taiwan, with shipments jumping 42 percent to US$5.58 billion after climbing 36 percent in June, the ministry said. Hong Kong and China were followed by the US with US$2.41 billion in shipments and Europe with US$1.72 billion, and Japan, US$1.2 billion.

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