Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Export orders rise by just 2.8%

By Jerry Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Export order growth slowed to single digits for the fourth straight month last month as demand from China weakened, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.

Export orders rose by a disappointing 2.82 percent last month from a year earlier to reach US$31.79 billion. Last month’s export order growth fell to its lowest level since April 2002.

Orders from China [including Hong Kong], the nation’s largest export market, fell for the second straight month, down 10.79 percent from a year earlier, after declining 8.86 percent in August.

Orders from the US slid 2.29 percent last month, marking the second negative growth this year, following June’s 3.86 percent drop.

Tony Phoo (符銘財), an economist at Standard Chartered Bank (Taiwan) Ltd, said last month’s figures surprised him, as he originally expected export orders to grow by 7.9 percent and orders from China to remain flat.

Industrial output dropped 1.39 percent last month from a year earlier, lower than Standard Chartered Bank’s estimate of 3.5 percent. It was the first negative annual growth registered since January last year, excluding seasonal factors. Meanwhile, the manufacturing industry shed 1.13 percent.

In addition to industrial output, Phoo said declining retail trade sales last month, which fell 5.06 percent year-on-year, added to the possibility that the third quarter GDP figure was very likely to turn negative.

Phoo said he wasn’t planning to cut fourth-quarter GDP, which he estimated at 1 percent.

“Taiwan’s trade surplus was flat in the third quarter because the import volume of crude oil went up in July and August. I don’t think this phenomenon will happen again in the fourth quarter,” he said.

Department of Statistics Director Huang Ji-shih (黃吉實) said he was not very optimistic about this month’s results, as only 20 percent of Taiwanese firms surveyed expect orders to increase this month, while 34 percent believe orders will drop.

“If October’s export orders are disappointing, it will be proof that Christmas demand is low, then fourth quarter will not be looking good,” Huang said.

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