Fri, Dec 24, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Exports last month were second-highest on record

SPIKE The nation's exports rose more than 30 percent year-on-year last month, but analysts said the boom presages a slowdown next quarter on cooling demand

AP AND AFP , TAIPEI

Export orders rose sharply last month, backed by robust demand for the nation's electronics and information-technology products, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.

Export orders totaled US$19.75 billion last month, up 30.11 percent from a year earlier and the second highest value for any month on record.

Last month's growth rate outpaced the on-year rise of 25.46 percent in October, when orders totaled an all-time high of US$20.25 billion.

Export orders in the 11 months to last month amounted to US$195.29 billion, up 26.56 percent from a year earlier.

Last month, export orders for information technology and communications products totaled US$3.93 billion, up 16.19 percent from a year earlier.

Orders for electronics products totalled US$4.34 billion, up 35.52 percent year-on-year.

Textile orders last month rose 0.1 percent year-on-year to US$1.01 billion.

The ministry expects growth in export orders to slow next year in the wake of likely US interest rate hikes and China's measures to slow economic growth.

"We have to observe [the trend] for a few more months before we can project whether growth will be single or double-digits," said Chang Yaw-tzong (張耀聰), statistics director-general at the ministry.

Economists said strong demand from the US and China for electronics goods continued during the month, ahead of the holiday shopping season, but this could wane in coming months as a weaker US dollar affects the buying power of consumers in the two countries.

Export orders from the US, the nation's biggest export market after China, rose 34 percent to US$5.6 billion last month, while orders from Hong Kong rose 32 percent last month to US$4.5 billion. Most Taiwanese goods bound for China are shipped via Hong Kong because of transport restrictions between Taiwan and its political rival.

``In November, there may be still a bit of holdover demand from October,'' said Joseph Lau, an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston in Hong Kong.

But starting this month, the rate of export orders growth will fall along with an anticipated slowdown in global demand next year, he said.

Economists said last month's export orders were partly boosted by companies ordering goods earlier than usual on concerns the US dollar would weaken further. Most of Taiwan's export goods are sold in US dollars.

The positive effect of the weaker US dollar on the nation's export orders could be temporary, however.

Last month, the US dollar dropped 3.7 percent from NT$33.42 to NT$32.19.

Hermes Yang (楊聖璋), an economist at KGI Securities Co (中信證券), said the export data for this month will better reflect real global demand for Taiwanese goods, as the US dollar has been relatively stable during the current month.

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