Wed, May 24, 2006 - Page 11 News List

April's export orders increase

STRONG DEMAND Orders for last month rose by more than 18 percent from the same period last year, on demand from the US, China and Hong Kong, and Europe

AGENCIES , TAIPEI

The nation's export orders -- indicators of coming export shipments -- rose 18.57 percent year-on-year to US$24.68 billion (NT$789.46 billion) last month on the back of an active global economy and, in particular, strong demand from the US and China, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.

Strong demand for consumer electronics also helped, the ministry said.

The value of last month's export orders marked the second-highest monthly total after a record US$24.94 billion in March, when orders rose 19.33 percent year-on-year, the ministry said.

In the first four months of the year, export orders amounted to US$91.99 billion, up 20.52 percent from the same period a year earlier.

US, China, Europe

The ministry said export orders from the US amounted to US$6.79 billion last month, up US$1.42 billion, or 26.43 percent, year-on-year.

Orders from Hong Kong and China last month jumped 26.19 percent year-on-year to US$6.25 billion while orders from Japan increased 7.61 percent to US$2.50 billion.

Orders from Europe grew 23.13 percent year-on-year to US$4.09 billion, the ministry added.

Looking ahead, the ministry's statistics director-general Chang Yaw-tzong (張耀宗) said "export orders in May are seen to have double-digit growth from a year earlier."

"While there are concerns about high crude-oil prices, China's macroeconomic control measures and New Taiwan dollar appreciation, demand for electronics, information communication technology and precision machinery looks promising," he said.

Export orders for information technology and communications products in the month totaled US$5.08 billion, up 33.59 percent from a year earlier, while orders for electronics products reached US$5.63 billion, up 32.37 percent year-on-year.

But an economist warned of slower growth in export orders in the coming months as electronics demand is slowing.

"Global demand for Taiwan's electronics and IT products is softening as customers are waiting for new products, which normally roll out in the market in the summer," said Lee Ming-han, a Taipei-based economist at Grand Cathay Securities Corp (大華證券).

Export reliance

The nation's dependence on exports, which account for about half of the economy, makes it vulnerable to swings in overseas demand. A smaller expansion in the external sector may make it more difficult for the government to achieve the 4.31 percent economic growth it forecast for this year.

Exporters such as Compal Electronics Inc (仁寶電腦) have reported weaker sales growth.

Compal, which is the world's second-largest notebook-computer maker, had a 26 percent increase in sales last month, compared with a 36 gain in the previous month, according to figures released by the company.

Separately, industrial output last month rose 5.53 percent year-on-year but was down 4.49 percent from the preceding month, the ministry said.

In the first four months of the year, the industrial output index rose 7.55 percent.

The ministry said the manufacturing sector index last month was up 5.47 percent from a year ago, but down 4.51 percent from the preceding month.

The housing construction sector index for last month was up 17.89 percent year-on-year, but down 12.99 percent from March.

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