Wed, Dec 21, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Export orders grew at a snail’s pace

POSSIBLE CONTRACTION:Economists warn that after meager 2.54 percent growth last month, export orders could face their first contraction in a long time this month

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Export orders grew a scant 2.54 percent year-on-year last month as Apple Inc’s popular iPhone restrained demand for locally made cellphones and tablets, marking the slowest annual pace of growth in more than two years, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.

This month, export orders are expected to decline slightly based on a survey conducted by the ministry, meaning the nation’s export orders could face their first annual contraction since September 2009, Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜), deputy director of the ministry’s statistics department, told the Taipei Times. She declined to provide details.

Export orders increased to US$36.65 billion last month, from US$35.74 billion during the same period last year, supported by rising demand from the US, to which export orders grew nearly 15 percent year-on-year to US$8.92 billion, the ministry’s statistics showed.

On a monthly basis, export orders shrank 1.49 percent to their lowest level since February, from October’s US$37.21 billion.

Tsai attributed the sluggish demand to China, Taiwan’s biggest export destination, and Europe.

“Growth in export orders fell short of my forecast of an annual growth rate of 3.5 percent. The figure is bad,” Citibank chief economist Cheng Cheng-mount (鄭貞茂) said, adding that orders from Japan plunged at a faster-than-expected 21.4 percent annual rate as post-quake reconstruction slowed.

The weaker-than-expected export orders figure “indicates that Taiwan’s GDP growth faces a -downside risk this quarter,” he said.

Cheng said Taiwan’s annual GDP growth could be lower than the 3.6 percent he had projected, meaning that the nation’s GDP could suffer a second quarterly annual decline this quarter.

Orders from China increased by just 0.14 percent year-on-year to US$9.2 billion, while orders from debt-ridden Europe only rose 1.02 percent to US$7.1 -billion from a year earlier.

Even demand from emerging markets, including those in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, decreased 4.36 percent year-on-year to US$2.09 billion, according to the ministry’s data.

Last month, orders for information and communications products, the major pillars of Taiwan’s exports, edged up 1.1 percent year-on-year last month to US$9.34 billion, compared with US$9.24 billion a year ago, the ministry’s statistics showed.

Earlier this month, Apple’s local rival HTC Corp (宏達電) said its revenues plunged 19.6 percent year-on-year to NT$30.94 billion (US$1.02 billion) from NT$38.48 billion.

In the first 11 months, export orders amounted to US$399.82 billion, up 8.02 percent from the same period last year.

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