Export orders rose 5.26 percent year-on-year to US$36.71 billion last month, the slowest increase since November 2009, Ministry of Economic Affairs figures showed.
The weaker momentum was caused by a slump in orders for electronics components and panels, the ministry said yesterday.
Orders for electronics components — including memory chips — contracted for the first time since October 2009 by 0.74 percent last month, while those for precision machinery — mainly LCD panels — continued to slump, shrinking 4.99 percent last month, the ministry said.
The eurozone debt crisis and a sluggish US economy, coupled with Japan just emerging from the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, drove electronics orders down to a new low, said Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜), deputy-director of the ministry’s statistics department.
Sagging demand from China — Taiwan’s major panel importer, which is taking measures to cool the property market and tighten monetary policy — affected orders for Taiwanese precision machinery, Tsai said.
Raymond Yeung (楊宇霆), a senior economist at ANZ Research, said the ministry’s data confirmed that the global market turmoil had hampered Taiwan’s trade outlook and would cloud its growth prospects for the traditionally busy Christmas period.
Taiwanese exporters face an increasingly difficult macroeconomy in the near term, he added.
While orders for information and communications products grew 9.88 percent last month, they were significantly weaker compared with July’s year-on-year growth of 21.79 percent.
Tablets and smartphones continued to sell well, but the demand was discounted by overall macroeconomic uncertainties, the ministry said.
In terms of country breakdown, China placed US$9.62 billion worth of orders last month, up 3.44 percent year-on-year.
US orders rose 9.05 percent to US$8.37 billion, while those from Europe climbed 8.08 percent to US$6.48 billion.
The six ASEAN countries — Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam — placed orders worth US$3.67 billion, rising 13.06 percent from last year.
However, orders from Japan dropped 9.52 percent to US$3.71 billion, because it was still reeling from the March disasters.
For the first eight months of the year, export orders totaled US$289 billion, up 9.98 percent from the same period last year.
The ministry said orders this month were expected to advance from last month based on its survey of vendors. Orders for the third quarter are forecast to expand by a single-digit percentage from the same period last year, the ministry said.
Export orders are an indicator of Taiwanese outbound shipments in the next one to three months.