The nation’s exports grew at a higher-than-expected pace to hit a record high last month, thanks to strong global demand for Taiwanese--made information and communication technology (ICT) products and still-robust exports to emerging economies in Asia, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
Outbound shipments surged 11.7 percent month-on-month and 17.6 percent year-on-year to US$28.12 billion last month, helping boost exports to US$182.26 billion in the first seven months — the strongest level ever, the ministry said in a report.
“Despite the rising uncertainties over the US and European economies, exports expanded more strongly than expected last month, as the demand for ICT products remained at a high level in developed markets,” Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a media briefing.
Exports to the US hit a fresh high of US$3.53 billion last month, up US$240 million from a month earlier, mostly from ICT products including smartphones, tablets and GPS navigation devices, Lin said.
Exports of ICT products totaled US$2.04 billion last month, also marking the highest level in history, Lin added.
Outbound shipments of electronics, metal and plastics products also hit a record high last month on strong demand from economies around Asia, she added.
Exports to China and Hong Kong — the nation’s largest exports destinations — stood at US$11.2 billion last month, the second-largest in history, while outbound shipments to ASEAN countries were at their second-highest level at US$4.55 billion, according to ministry data.
Exports to Japan hit a record high of US$1.67 billion last month, providing more evidence that the impact from Japan’s massive earthquake in March on Taiwan’s technology supply chain is abating, data showed.
However, Sydney-based Katrina Ell, an associate economist at Moody’s Analytics, said that the uncertain global outlook would be the key downside risk to Taiwan’s export-oriented economy in the months ahead.
“If investors’ worst fears are realized and the global economy does enter a recession or at least a slowdown, then this will subdue demand for Taiwan’s exports, which will in turn weigh on growth,” Ell said in a research note yesterday.
Lin agreed that the economic slowdown in the US, the lingering debt problem in the eurozone and inflationary pressure in the emerging markets would be the major risks for the nation’s export performance in the second half of the year.
However, Taipei-based Standard Chartered Bank economist Tony Phoo (符銘財) said that last month’s strong exports of electronics and ICT products have evidently provided relief to the market.
The data demonstrated positive export momentum into the second half, which bodes well for related investment spending and employment, and that would provide support to Taiwan’s economy for the rest of the year, Phoo said.
Yesterday’s report also showed imports rose 4.1 percent last month from a year earlier to US$24.77 billion, the fourth--largest amount on record.
That has helped bring the trade surplus to US$3.34 billion, up 54.5 percent from last year, ministry statistics showed.