Growth in industrial production slowed to a two-year low last month, as global economic uncertainties dampened global demand for Taiwanese electronics products, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Last month’s output rose 1.62 percent from the same month last year to 125.65 points — its slowest expansion since September 2009, when it grew 2.8 percent, the ministry said.
Factory output started to lose steam in April, the first month that it saw a single-digit growth rate instead of the double digits recorded earlier in the year.
The ministry said last week that export orders — an indicator of outbound shipments over the next one to three months — hit US$36.96 billion last month, up 2.72 percent year-on-year.
The growth rate of export orders was also the lowest it has been in nearly two years, dragged down by a slump in orders for electronics components, such as semiconductors.
The manufacturing industry — which accounts for more than 90 percent of Taiwan’s total factory output and includes the electronics, chemicals, machinery and food and textile sectors — expanded 1.99 percent last month.
The personal computers, electronics and optical peripherals sector recorded a strong output jump of 19.1 percent last month.
The rapid growth rate was fueled by Japanese companies switching orders for printed circuit boards, digital cameras and hard disk drives to Taiwanese manufacturers after their production facilities in Thailand were hit by floods, said Huang Ji-shih (黃吉實), director-general of the ministry’s statistics department.
He said he expected Taiwanese firms to continue to benefit from the order switch until the end of the year because Thailand’s facilities were not expected to be fully operational by December.
Output in the electronics component sector rose 1.49 percent as strong component sales for tablets and smartphones offset sluggish demand for semiconductors, Huang said.
The ministry’s statistics showed that factory output for the first nine months grew 7.73 percent from last year.
Huang said output for the fourth quarter should diminish slightly from the third because of global economic turbulence, adding that the seasonality boom would be less obvious this year.
Separately, the ministry yesterday released domestic trade figures for last month.
Total revenue for the wholesale, retail and food and beverage sectors was NT$1.22 trillion (US$40.5 billion), marking it the second-highest amount on record after July.
The figure was up 4.32 percent year-on-year, or a rise of 1.08 percent month-on-month.
Wholesale trade was up 3.36 percent year-on-year to NT$889.1 billion, while retail trade was up 6.66 percent to NT$305.2 billion. Food and beverage was up 10.09 percent to NT$30.4 billion.
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