Taiwan’s year-on-year growth in exports hit its lowest level since October 2009 amid continuous global economic uncertainties and intense competition for technology products, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
Outbound shipments rose 1.3 percent from a year earlier to US$24.68 billion last month, slower than the 11.7 percent growth -recorded in October, the ministry said in a report.
On a monthly basis, exports declined 8.7 percent last month after rising for the previous two months, the report said.
“The eurozone debt crisis and a slowing economic recovery in the US struck down global economic momentum, dragging down Taiwan’s exports,” Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.
Exports declined for the electronics, information and communication technology, chemicals, textiles and plastics sectors, marking their lowest annual growth rate since September 2009, Lin said.
Exports to the six main ASEAN countries increased 30.3 percent from a year ago to total US$4.6 billion last month, hitting the second-highest level in history, with the bloc’s proportion of exports rising to 18.7 percent, the highest proportion ever, the report’s data showed.
However, exports to other markets, including China and Hong Kong, the US, Japan and Europe, all showed a decrease last month from the previous year.
The slowdown was also reflected in imports, with inbound shipments dropping 10.4 percent from a year earlier to US$21.47 billion last month, compared with October’s 11.8 percent rise, the ministry said.
Imports of capital goods declined 32.4 percent from a year earlier to US$2.97 billion, with mechanical goods imports falling for the fifth straight month to US$1.71 billion, ministry data showed.
However, imports of consumer goods hit their second-highest level of US$2.12 billion, led by demand for automobiles, it said.
Lin expected full-year imports and exports to each grow by about 13 percent from last year, but said the slowing global economy might impact trade in the fourth quarter.
Cheng Cheng-mount (鄭貞茂), chief economist at Citigroup in Taipei, said the annual growth of exports last month was far below market expectations of 8.6 percent, indicating that exports may have a second sequential decline in the fourth quarter.
If this is the case, it has “added to the risk of a technical recession in the fourth quarter,” Cheng said in a research report, adding that it might bring forward the cyclical bottom to the fourth quarter, instead of the first quarter next year.
Nonetheless, this month’s exports are likely to stay at the same level compared with those of last month, avoiding a year-on-year contraction for exports in the fourth quarter, Cheng said.