Tue, Jun 10, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Exports gained 20 percent in May

ASIAN TRADELast month was the 27th consecutive month of trade surpluses, while imports also rose, growing 17.6 percent over the same period a year ago


Exports jumped 20.5 percent year-on-year last month as trade with Asian countries remained active despite an economic slowdown in the US, Taiwan’s second-largest trade partner, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

The export volume hit US$23.6 billion last month, the second highest in history, while imports stood at US$21.38 billion, or a rise of 17.6 percent from a year ago, said Hsu Ray-lin (許瑞琳), deputy director of the ministry’s Department of Statistics.

Both figures have been on the rise since last September and it is the 27th consecutive month the country posted a trade surplus that widened to US$2.21 billion last month from a revised US$1.4 billion a year earlier, the ministry’s report said.

Hsu attributed the trend to rising demand from Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Japan, India and Southeast Asia that rallied more than 23 percent.

Shipments destined for Europe also picked up 10.7 percent, he said.

Hsu depicted the statistics as a sign of continuing export growth, although he noted that shipments to the US declined 3.6 percent last month, after rising 2.2 percent the previous month.

“US economic activities remain weak because of the subprime crisis,” Hsu said.

“But [Taiwan] has continually performed dynamically in foreign trade by increasing its dependence on emerging markets in recent years,” he said.

Exports to India soared 45.5 percent between January and last month, the ministry’s report showed, adding that sales to China and Southeast Asia both shot up 26 percent during the same period.

Financial analysts shared Hsu’s opinion.

“Growing exports to emerging markets in China, Russia, India and elsewhere will help mitigate the impact of a slowdown in the US,” Peter Kurz, head of Taiwan research at Citigroup Inc, said on Bloomberg Television yesterday.

Sales of electronics to China, the world’s fastest-growing major economy, have helped Taiwan weather fallout from the US financial crisis, which has reduced demand for Asian exports, Bloomberg said.

Sales to Japan gained 23.7 percent last month, climbing from 11.7 percent in April, the report said, adding that exports to Europe rose 10.7 percent.

Exports of electronics rose 12.8 percent last month, accelerating from a 3.1 percent gain in April.

Information technology and communications product exports increased 9.1 percent, after gaining 11.4 percent in April.

“The strength is mostly from Asia,” said Alan Liao, an economist at Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金) in Taipei.

“Taiwan’s economy remains stable, yet inflation remains the key risk throughout the region,” he said.

The economy grew 6.06 percent in the first quarter, as Taiwan joined Japan, Hong Kong and Malaysia in reporting expansion that exceeded expectations with Asian trade buoying growth.

Taiwan’s trade and investment with China is poised to improve as President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government works to lift a ban on direct cross-strait transport.

“As usual, strong demand from emerging markets boosted exports, while energy drove high imports,” Cheng Cheng-mount (鄭貞茂), chief economist at Citibank Taiwan Ltd (花旗銀行) in Taipei, said yesterday.

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