Sat, Jan 24, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Monthly export orders hit record low on recession

By Elizabeth Tchii  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation’s export orders hit a historical single month low last month, dropping 33 percent or US$10.24 billion to reach US$20.79 billion, figures released by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) showed yesterday.

Looking at major product categories, precision instruments showed the sharpest year-on-year drop in export orders of 53.83 percent last month, followed by digital products at 30.84 percent, and telecommunications products at 23.13 percent, to reach US$1.24 billion, US$4.93 billion and US$5.08 billion, respectively.

Meanwhile, export orders to the country’s major partners declined by double digits across the board last month, compared to the same month in 2007.

Orders to China showed a historical new monthly decrease of 47.13 percent to reach US$4.36 billion. At the same time, orders to the US, Europe and Japan retracted by 24.73 percent, 27.69 percent and 27.20 percent to arrive at US$5.66 billion, US$4.04 billion and US$2.26 billion, respectively.

Huang Ji-shih (黃吉實), director of the ministry’s statistics department, said a slowdown in Taiwan’s export orders to China and Japan last month was expected, given the recent trade numbers released in these two countries.

For the full year last year, export orders edged up 1.71 percent from 2007, showing the lowest growth since 2001.

Huang forecast export orders at a meager US$20 billion for this month, citing the shortened work month, a slowdown in the economies of major export partners and local company sentiment as the three major reasons behind his estimate.

“In a recent poll with our major manufacturers, only 9.4 percent of the respondents believed export orders would grow in January, while more than 60 percent of them expected further declines,” Huang said.

Huang said he foresaw the local economy hitting bottom in the first quarter or second quarter of this year, while signs of recovery may possibly start to emerge sometime in the third quarter, which is similar to the view recently expressed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電), Huang said.

The ministry yesterday also released last month’s industrial production data, which dropped by 32.35 percent from a year earlier and posted a record decline based on the government’s statistics.

Last year, from January to last month, the accumulated output decreased by 1.95 percent from that of 2007, setting a new low since 2001, the ministry’s data showed.

Huang said the slowdowns in the manufacturing and mineral and mining sectors were the major contributors to the deterioration in industrial output for last year.

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