Exports could post a year-on-year decline for the first half of the year because of the higher comparison basis recorded last year and lower demand from major export markets in the wake of a fragile global economy, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
Outbound shipments totaled US$25.54 billion last month, down 6.4 percent year-on-year and 3 percent from last month, the ministry said in a report.
Exports to China and Hong Kong contracted 11.6 percent year-on-year to US$9.86 billion following slower economic activity, with exports of machines, metals, plastics and chemicals declining for a second consecutive month, the report said.
Meanwhile, exports to the US fell 16.3 percent from the previous year to US$27.06 billion as a result of lower exports of information and communication technology, products, while outbound shipments to Japan were down 10.6 percent at US$1.46 billion, ministry data showed.
However, exports to Europe and the six main ASEAN members both rebounded last month, with annual growth standing at 3.5 percent and 4.4 percent respectively.
Nine of the nation’s 10 major export sectors posted year-on-year declines last month, while exports of transportation equipment rose 17.9 percent to US$1.01 billion from a year ago, its highest ever level, data showed.
Donna Kwok (郭浩庄), an economist for Greater China at HSBC Asia, said in a note yesterday that she expected demand from the West, especially Europe, to constrain export growth for a while longer.
Meanwhile, the steady economic slowdown from the gradual impact of global energy price increases in the first quarter of this year could encourage the central bank to keep interest rates unchanged at least until the fourth quarter, Kwok said.
For the first four months of this year exports totaled US$96.37 billion, down 4.7 percent from a year earlier, the worst performance among the four Asian Tigers, ministry statistics showed.
“Although the global economy has shown signs of improvement, the competition between countries has also been tougher, making it harder for some exports from Taiwan,” Lin said.
Exports to South Korea inched up 0.9 percent year-on-year in the first four months, with growth in exports to Singapore and Hong Kong standing at 6.2 percent and minus 0.3 percent respectively in the first three months, according to ministry statistics.
The nation’s imports, or inbound shipments, totaled US$24.86 billion last month, up 3 percent year-on-year and 3.6 percent from last month, spearheaded by higher prices for imported crude petroleum, the ministry said.
As a result of falling exports and rising imports, the trade surplus fell to US$690 million, down 76.6 percent year-on-year and 70.8 percent from the previous month, the data showed.
However, imports of capital equipment fell 1.4 percent from a year ago to US$3.1 billion last month, with machine imports posting its 10th consecutive monthly fall, indicating continued weakness in private investment.