Taiwan’s export orders were the second-highest on record last month, on the back of strong international demand for Taiwanese electronics products such as tablets and smartphones.
Although the headline figure of US$37.41 billion was a 4.1 percent drop from March — the highest month on record at US$38.99 billion, it still represented a 10.1 percent expansion on an annual basis, the Ministry of -Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Export orders are an indication of Taiwan’s products and components shipments to overseas markets over the next one to three months.
Deputy director of the ministry’s statistics department, Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜), said the strong momentum was a result of the launch of new tech gadgets such as tablets and smartphones, which use Taiwanese electronics components including chips, printed circuit boards and passive components.
Demand from the US and Europe, meanwhile, boosted orders for Taiwanese machinery, she added.
Despite the rosy figures, Tony Phoo (符銘財), a Taipei-based economist at Standard Chartered Bank, offered a few words of caution.
He said that the exceptionally strong performance in March was largely because of a rush of orders from overseas buyers looking to secure essential components and raw materials from local suppliers over concerns that the massive earthquake in Japan in March could impact supply chains.
“As local producers reportedly hold about two to three months in inventory supply, the on-going rolling blackout in Japan — especially now that demand for electricity is expected to reach its peak in the summer season — may affect the ability of Taiwanese exporters to source key raw materials from Japan,” he wrote in a note yesterday.
The fear is that this could undermine their ability to keep up with rising orders and even result in delays in delivery over the coming months, he added.
According to the ministry, China placed US$10.05 billion in orders with Taiwan last month, marking year-on-year growth of 2.3 percent.
The US ordered 17.4 percent more from Taiwan at US$8.31 billion, while Europe ordered 23.3 percent more at US$6.54 billion.
Japanese orders from Taiwan expanded 1.1 percent to US$3.84 billion.
The six ASEAN countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) ordered US$3.76 billion from Taiwan, a rise of 17.1 percent on last year.
“The amount from ASEAN was the highest for that market, as they purchased more chemical products from Taiwan,” Tsai said.
In terms of product breakdown, orders for information and communications products — -comprising handsets and --notebooks — -advanced 12.2 percent from a year earlier to US$9.06 billion last month.
Those of electronics components — which consist of semiconductors and memory chips — rose 7.2 percent to US$8.71 billion last month.
Global orders for precision machinery — mainly LCD panels — saw a decline of 2.1 percent to US$3.2 billion.
That was because China bought fewer panels as it sees a rising penetration rate of LCD TVs. In addition, the Chinese government’s policy of cooling down the real-estate sector impacted home appliance purchases, Tsai said.