The nation’s exports contracted for the 10th consecutive month last month, but only by one third of the pace of a year ago, although last month’s export figure was the highest it has been in eight months as demand remains weak amid the global slump, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
Outbound shipments dropped by 30.4 percent last month to US$16.95 billion, the highest level since November. Imports shrank 33.5 percent to US$15.18 billion, leaving a trade surplus of US$1.76 billion, the ministry’s report showed.
“With the downturn slackening steadily, the data may turn positive in November,” said Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), head of the ministry’s statistics department.
Lin said the private sector appeared to have regained some for investment appetite as seen by improving imports of capital equipment that jumped 31.6 percent to US$2.18 billion from a month earlier. The figure, however, constituted a 29.5 percent decline from a year earlier, the report said.
“Foundry equipment alone accounted for US$170 million, topping other capital goods,” Lin said, adding that imports of consumer products picked up 20.5 percent from May to US$1.4 billion, a likely sign of revived private consumption.
Still, the latest data had shipments to major trade partners falling last month.
Exports to China/Hong Kong, the nation’s biggest export destination, shrank by an annual pace of 30.2 percent to US$7.059 billion last month, the report said.
Shipments to ASEAN countries, the nation’s second-biggest trade partner, fell 22.5 percent to US$2.721 billion, the report said.
Meanwhile, exports to the US and the EU dropped by 29 percent and 38.5 percent to US$1.866 billion and US$1.718 billion respectively, the report said. Shipments to Japan shed 18.6 percent to US$1.215 billion.
Altogether, exports contracted 34.2 percent to US$88.49 billion for the first six months, while imports slumped 42.3 percent to US$72.96 billion, bringing the trade surplus to US$15.53 billion for this year, the report said.
Jack Huang (黃蔭基), head of research at SinoPac Financial Holdings Co (永豐金控), said the data confirmed a slow recovery, with exports expected to regain positive growth in the fourth quarter.
“While the second quarter proved to be slightly better than expected, it remains to be seen if the second half will turn out active as hoped,” Huang said by telephone.
Huang said Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), for instance, was likely to see 5 percent growth in export orders in the third quarter, but a decline of 5 percent to 10 percent in the fourth quarter. Liang Kuo-yuan (梁國源), president of Polaris Research Institute (寶華綜合經濟研究院), said the high season hinges on the US, whose economic woes have stabilized, although its outlook remains highly uncertain.