Tue, Mar 22, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Exports orders slow on falling demand

BELOW EXPECTATIONS:Orders from Japan fell more than 10 percent last month from a year earlier and after the earthquake uncertainty about export orders could increase

By Amy Su  /  Staff Reporter

The nation’s export orders expanded at a slower-than-expected 5.33 percent to US$28.87 billion last month from a year ago amid decreasing orders for local notebooks and flat panels, as well as slower demand from Japan, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.

The results marked the lowest year-on-year expansion in 16 months, when export orders increased 4.41 percent in October 2009, the ministry’s data showed.

Orders from Japan fell 10.41 percent to US$3.15 billion from a year earlier last month, marking the fourth straight month of decrease, data showed.

Export orders are an indication of Taiwan’s product and component shipments to overseas markets over the ensuing one to three months.

“The growth of export orders last month was below the market’s expectations with lower demand on flat panels from China and weaker demand on notebooks,” Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜), deputy director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a media briefing.

That resulted in a decline of 3.59 percent in orders of information and communications technology to US$6.86 billion last month from a year ago, according to the ministry’s statistics.

Last month’s orders for precision machinery fell 0.53 percent to US$2.44 billion from a year earlier, the statistics showed.

Export orders last month were still mainly kept aloft by China, Taiwan’s largest export market, with a 2.7 percent year-on-year increase to total US$7.37 billion, Tsai said.

Cheng Cheng-mount (鄭貞茂), chief economist at Citigroup in Taipei, said Taiwan’s exports last month were lower than his expectations of a 13.7 percent increase, as orders from Europe and technology products did not grow as expected.

However, rising crude oil prices and seasonal shutdowns by other Asian petrochemical plants drove up international demand for local chemicals last month, Tsai said.

That makes local chemicals last month’s major export order item, increasing 33.13 percent to US$481 million from a year earlier, according to the ministry’s statistics.

On a monthly basis, export orders last month saw a decline of 16.21 percent from US$34.46 billion in January with fewer working days during the Lunar New Year holiday, data showed.

Tsai remained optimistic about Taiwan’s export orders this month, saying the results could rebound on the back of rising demand from China’s Labor Day holiday in May.

As global commodity prices remain high, local chemicals, petrochemicals and metals would continue to be the main driver for Taiwanese exports on the back of strong demand, Tsai added.

However, the massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan could increase the uncertainty of local export orders, as the market has mixed views on its influence, she said.

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