Fri, Sep 08, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Strong exports fuel sixth straight trade surplus for Taiwan

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Backed by robust exports, the nation recorded a trade surplus last month of US$1.21 billion, up by 10.5 percent from a year ago, the Ministry of Finance reported yesterday. It was the sixth straight month that Taiwan has recorded a trade surplus.

Exports last month amounted to US$19.37 billion, the second-highest figure in history, behind only July's figure of US$19.58 billion. Imports stood at US$18.16 billion, trailing only May's US$18.21 billion, said Hsu Ray-lin (許瑞琳), deputy director of the ministry's statistics department, during a press briefing.

Overseas trade continued to expand at a double-digit rate, albeit slower than in July. Exports and imports last month rose by 16.6 percent and 17.1 percent respectively from last year, the ministry's statistics showed.

Growth momentum came from strong exports to Hong Kong, China, the US and ASEAN, which all grew by more than 16 percent year-on-year. Exports to Japan and Europe expanded by 13.9 percent and 12.6 percent respectively.

Asked whether exports would reach new heights by the end of the year, Hsu expressed reservations, citing the high comparable base in last year's fourth quarter, which recorded vigorous exports.

According to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, the government's statistics agency, exports in the October-to-December period are forecast to increase by only 4.89 percent on last year.

"Because of rising crude oil prices and weakening US economic growth, concerns over worldwide inflation remain. As a result, many are worried that the global economy is likely to slow, which could affect Taiwan's exports and economic growth," Hsu said.

Taiwan imported 36.83 million barrels of crude oil last month at US$69.48 per barrel, the highest unit price in history. This compared with July's imports of 24.6 million barrels at US$65 each.

Crude oil imports cost an average of US$56.90 per barrel in the first quarter and US$63.20 in the second, Hsu said.

Although escalating oil costs caused imports of agricultural and industrial raw materials to grow by 17.6 percent during the first eight months of the year, domestic consumption has shrunk.

With the consumer bad debt problem also affecting purchasing power, imports of consumables remained flat from last year.

During the January-to-last month period, exports totaled US$145 billion, up

by 14.5 percent from last year. Imports were US$134.2 billion during the

same period of time, increasing 11.5 percent year-on-year. That translates

into a trade surplus of US$10.8 billion, up 71.7 percent from a year

earlier, according to the ministry.

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