Sat, Jan 08, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Trade posts double-digit growth

ROBUST SHIPMENTS:After recording 34.8 percent growth last year, exports are likely to see slower growth momentum this year, the Ministry of Finance said

By Jason Tan  /  Staff reporter

Exports last month increased for a 14th straight month on strong demand for electronics products, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

Outbound shipments rose 19.1 percent from a year earlier to US$23.8 billion, following a 21.8 percent gain in November, the ministry said.

Imports rose 21.4 percent year-on-year to US$22.2 billion last month, following an increase of 33.8 percent in the previous month, the ministry said.

The resultant trade surplus climbed to US$1.6 billion last month, from US$410 million in November.

Last month’s export growth beat HSBC’s estimate of 12 percent.

“The sustained resilience of Taiwan’s export growth proves that manufacturers are continuing to tighten their grip on [the] recovery. Not only European, but also US demand [is] holding up since reawakening from [a] summer lull,” said Donna Kwok (郭浩庄), HSBC economist for Greater China.

“Unless oil prices jump by another US$20 from their current US$90 levels, Taipei policymakers should be able to sit back and enjoy the ride with relatively less inflationary worries than their regional peers,” she said in an e-mailed statement.

For the whole of last year, exports expanded 34.8 percent to a record US$274.6 billion, the ministry said, but it added that the growth momentum could slow this year.

Imports last year also expanded at a rapid pace, up 44. 2 percent to US$251.4 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of US$23.3 billion, down 20.7 percent.

Exports to China, ASEAN and Japan all hit a record last year, the ministry said.

Exports to China — Taiwan’s biggest market — advanced 37.1 percent to US$114.7 billion, while those to ASEAN climbed 37.2 percent to US$41.4 billion.

Exports to Japan rose 24.3 percent to US$18 billion, while those to the US — the nation’s second-largest market — expanded 33.6 percent to US$31.5 billion last year.

In terms of product breakdown, exports of electronics products — including semiconductors — increased 36.5 percent to US$77.3 billion last year.

Exports of optical products, including panels used in flat-panel TVs, jumped 47.9 percent to US$22.2 billion.

Exports of these two product segments, as well as four others — machinery, chemicals, transportation equipment, and plastics and rubber — all hit record highs last year on the back of the global recovery.

The ministry said the NT dollar’s continued rise against the US currency could impact on exports this year, but did not elaborate.

The NT dollar climbed 5.19 percent against the greenback last year. It closed at NT$29.80 yesterday in Taipei trading, its highest closing price since October 1997, up NT$0.301 from Thursday’s level, central bank tallies showed.

Additional reporting by Kevin Chen

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