Industrial output lost steam last month by posting a 3.55 percent decline year-on-year amid sluggish European and US demand, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
The growth rate was the lowest since September 2009, the year when the financial tsunami took a toll on Taiwan’s economy, the ministry said.
The output started to show signs of weakening in April — the first month it recorded single-digit growth instead of the double digits posted earlier. Last month output was 125.96 points, declining 1.32 percent from October.
The ministry said on Tuesday that export orders — an indication of shipments of products and components to overseas markets over the next one to three months — were US$36.65 billion last month.
That growth rate was 2.54 percent — the slowest since October 2009.
Factory output in the manufacturing industry — which accounts for more than 90 percent of Taiwan’s total factory output and includes the electronics, chemicals, machinery as well as food and textile sectors — slumped 4.22 percent last month.
The drop was caused by the aftermath of the eurozone debt crisis, which weakened demand for semiconductors, panels, LEDs and solar panels, said Huang Ji-shih (黃吉實), director-general of the ministry’s statistics department.
However, there was still good news amid the slowdown. The ministry said output of the PCs, electronics and optical peripherals sector advanced 17.86 percent last month.
“Vendors launched promotions, such as the IT Month consumer electronics fair, for the year-end festive buying spree, which helped boost demand for consumer electronics,” Huang said.
The weaker momentum was expected to carry into this month, but he expected the decline to narrow, while output for the whole year would grow at least 5 percent from last year.
The ministry’s statistics showed that average factory output for the first 11 months expanded 6.02 percent from last year to 129.67 points.
Separately, the ministry yesterday released figures for domestic commercial trade last month. Total revenue for wholesale, retail as well as the food and beverage sectors was NT$1.16 trillion (US$38.3 billion).
Revenue inched down 1 percent year-on-year and dropped 5.75 percent month-on-month.
The slump was mainly caused by wholesale trade, which declined 3.03 percent last month to NT$815.6 billion.
In contrast, food and beverage trade was up 8.91 percent to NT$29.3 billion, while retail trade increased 3.97 percent to NT$312.6 billion.
Cumulative revenue for commercial trade from January to last month was NT$13.07 billion, up 4.85 percent from the same period last year, the ministry’s data showed.