Wed, Dec 08, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Nation's export growth dropped to just 12% last month

AGENCIES , TAIPEI

Exports grew 12.5 percent year-on-year last month as the nation continued to ship the lion's share of its products to China, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

Exports rose to US$15.51 billion last month after a rise of 17.5 percent to US$15.39 billion in October, with imports up 20.7 percent to US$14.94 billion after a gain of 38.1 percent to US$15.05 billion.

The growth in exports last month represented the slowest pace in 14 months as high crude-oil costs left companies and consumers in the world's biggest economies with less to spend on computers, flat-panel displays and cell phones.

"High oil costs and the appreciation of the euro are slowing down the pace of economic growth," Hsu Kuo-chung (許國忠), statistics chief at the Ministry of Finance, told reporters in a press briefing today. "China's credit controls and the outlook for crude oil will still be the swinging factors."

In addition, Hsu said the recent strength of the local currency did not hurt exports because other Asian currencies have also gained in value against the US dollar. The stronger NT dollar makes local goods more expensive.

The International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have in the past two weeks cut their global economic growth forecasts for next year, citing high oil prices. The IMF lowered its projection to about 4 percent from 4.3 percent, while the OECD now predicts growth in its 30 member nations will average 2.9 percent, down from a previous estimate of 3.3 percent.

For the first 11 months of the year, exports were up 22.3 percent to US$159.16 billion, while imports rose 33.2 percent to US$151.9 billion. The nation's trade surplus during the same period came in at US$7.26 billion, down 54.9 percent from a year earlier.

"Both exports and imports have continued their trend of simultaneous growth which began in August 2003," the ministry said in a statement.

Further, both have simultaneously registered a double-digit expansion for 13 consecutive months, it added.

Last month, exports to Hong Kong and China amounted to US$5.64 billion, or 36.4 percent of total exports, while exports to the US amounted to US$2.56 billion, or 16.5 percent, the ministry said.

Exports to Europe totaled US$2.19 billion, representing 14.2 percent of total exports, while shipments to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries topped US$1.59 billion, accounting for 10.3 percent, it said.

"Export growth is in a downturn," Michael Ding (丁予嘉), president of Fubon Asset Management in Taipei, said before the figures were announced. "It's a trend that Taiwan can't escape as the world's largest economies slow down."

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