The nation’s exports hit a record high for the third consecutive month last month, thanks to strong global demand for high-tech products such as smartphones and tablet computers, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
Global commodity and oil prices, which remain high, also helped boost Taiwan’s total export value, the ministry said.
Outbound shipments grew 9.5 percent from a year earlier to US$27.88 billion last month, slower than the 24.6 percent increase registered in April, the ministry’s data showed. Last month’s exports were 2 percent higher than April’s US$27.32 billion, the data showed.
“The continuing strong momentum of Asian economies led Taiwan’s exports to remain at the strongest level,” Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), director of the statistics department, said at a media briefing.
Robust demand for smartphones and tablets made by Taiwanese companies such as HTC Corp (宏達電), Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦) and Acer Inc (宏碁) was behind the increase of exports in information and communications technology (ICT) products last month, while price hikes in global commodities helped boost exports of plastics and chemicals and textiles, Lin said.
Exports of ICT products rose to a historic high of US$1.99 billion last month, up 74.8 percent from a year earlier, while exports of metals and machinery also hit a record high at US$2.75 billion and US$1.92 billion respectively, the ministry’s data showed.
That means exports to the US hit a record high of US3.44 billion last month, Lin said, adding that exports to ASEAN also rose to a new high of US$4.66 billion, while exports to China including Hong Kong totaled US11.2 billion, the second-largest amount in history.
The current food scare in Taiwan would not influence exports in the near term, as related products account for less than 0.1 percent of total exports, Lin said.
Cheng Cheng-mount (鄭貞茂), chief economist at Citigroup in Taipei, said although the growth of exports last month beat market expectations, the figure fell to less than 10 percent single digit for the first time since October 2009.
However, exports may maintain double-digit growth comfortably throughout the year amid recovering global demand, the launch of new products and the dissipation of supply chain bottlenecks for technology products, Cheng said.
Imports rose 19.3 percent last month from a year earlier to US$26.65 billion, marking the largest amount on record, with capital goods imports rising 21 percent to stand at US$4.3 billion, the ministry’s data showed.
The sharp rebound in capital goods imports suggest that local producers have not cut back on their capital expenditures, reflecting continuing positive manufacturing confidence that will help support the overall employment outlook into the second half of this year, Tony Phoo (符銘財), a Taipei-based economist at Standard Chartered Bank, said yesterday.
As imports grew faster than exports, the nation’s trade surplus fell by 60.9 percent year-on-year to US$1.22 billion last month. That brought the trade surplus for the first five months to US$8.71 billion, down 17.8 percent from a year earlier, which may drag on net trade contribution to GDP growth in the second quarter, Phoo said.