Exports last month reached their second-highest level since the global financial crisis, with shipments of electronics and machinery hitting record highs on increasing global demand, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
Exports last month rose US$5.05 billion from a year ago to US$24.05 billion, up 26.6 percent year-on-year, compared with a gain of US$6.64 billion, or 38.5 percent year-on-year, in July. Ministry officials said it was the tenth consecutive month of double-digit export growth.
“Electronics shipments were US$6.87 billion last month, the most ever. Increasing demand also pushed sales of machinery to a record high of US$1.57 billion,” Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), head of the ministry’s statistics department, told a media briefing.
Of the export gains, shipments of electronic products saw the largest increase at US$1.36 billion, followed by sales of machinery at US$640 million and exports of base metals at US$520 million.
Exports to the US hit their highest level since late 2008 at US$2.93 billion, mostly helped by stellar shipments of information and communication products, the ministry said. Shipments to China, including Hong Kong, were US$9.79 billion, up 18.1 percent year-on-year, accounting for the largest portion of the nation’s foreign trade, 40.7 percent, followed by the ASEAN region at 14.8 percent and the US at 12.2 percent. Standard Chartered chief economist Tony Phoo (符銘財) said that the marginal pickup of exports to China indicated that overseas sales to the world’s largest developing economy appeared to have been impacted by concern over the US and European outlook.
Meanwhile, as domestic investment and consumption continued to increase, imports reached US$21.79 billion, up US$4.76 billion, or 28 percent, year-on-year, the third-highest amount since the financial crisis, the ministry said. Imports of capital equipment were US$3.78 billion, a US$1.48 billion or 64.3 percent increase from a year earlier. It was the sixth consecutive month in which they exceeded US$3 billion.
On a monthly basis, exports rose US$150 million or 0.6 percent while imports grew US$50 million, or 0.2 percent. Shipments to China, including Hong Kong, the US, Europe and Japan all reported month-on-month growth.
Exports to ASEAN countries, however, declined US$350 million, or 9 percent because of reduced sales of oil products to Singapore and Indonesia after major fires at Formosa Plastics, the ministry said.
Nonetheless, the decline in imports of raw materials, which fell 2.3 percent, indicated that “firms are turning to managing inventory until they get clearer picture or visibility into year-end sales demand,” Phoo said.
In the first eight months, exports to China, including Hong Kong, and Japan hit record highs of US$76.26 billion and US$11.82 billion, respectively, while imports of capital equipment reached a record high of US$26.05 billion, up US$11.04 billion or 73.6 percent, compared with the same period last year.
Looking ahead, ministry officials remained conservative on whether exports will exceed the record high of US$25.47 billion set in May in the following four months, saying that the fourth-quarter performance will not be as good as in the third quarter.
“Exports performed very well in the first half of the year, so it is less likely that the second half will make a breakthrough,” Lin said.