Exports expanded at a faster-than-expected pace to hit a record high last month, thanks to strong global demand for electronic products such as smartphones made by HTC Corp (宏達電), the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
Rising commodity prices also helped boost the total export amount, the ministry said.
Outbound shipments surged 24.6 percent from a year earlier to US$27.32 billion last month, the first time exports reached a high in what is usually a seasonally slack month, the ministry’s data showed.
The figure was a 0.3 percent increase from March’s US$27.25 billion, which was a historical high.
“Higher-than-expected exports last month came from stronger international demand for high-tech and mechanical products made by local companies amid the continuing global economic recovery,” Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a media briefing.
Robust demand for smartphones made by Taiwanese companies was behind the increase in electronics exports last month and price hikes in global commodities helped boost exports of plastics and chemicals, Lin said.
Exports of electronics rose to a historical high of US$7.33 billion last month, while exports of mechanical products also hit a record high at US$1.81 billion, the ministry’s data showed.
Cheng Cheng-mount (鄭貞茂), chief economist at Citigroup in Taipei, said the growth of exports last month beat market expectations, indicating that Japan’s March 11 earthquake has not had a significant impact on the supply chain and on Taiwan’s exports.
Exports to Japan increased 15.5 percent from a year earlier, or 11.5 percent month-on-month, to US$1.63 billion last month, the third-highest level ever, ministry data showed.
Cheng said last month’s strong exports led him revise up the forecast for export growth to 17.4 percent for this year, from the previous forecast of 13.3 percent.
“We continue to believe there will be an overhang on exports from the Japan earthquake in the coming months, bringing second-quarter exports growth down to the year’s low, before rebounding again in the second half of this year,” Cheng said in a research report issued yesterday.
Imports from Japan fell 11.3 percent from a month earlier to US$4.25 billion, with car imports down the most, evidence that a shortage of components amid the nation’s power shortages and nuclear crisis has started to affect exports to Taiwan, Lin said.
The nation’s imports rose 25.7 percent last month from a year earlier to US$24.36 billion, the third-largest amount on record.
That brought the trade surplus to US$2.96 billion, up 16.3 percent from last year, ministry statistics showed.