Export orders increased 8.5 percent year-on-year to US$39.39 billion last month, the second-highest level over the past year, but were 3.3 percent lower than in November last year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said yesterday.
For last year, total orders reached a record high US$441.01 billion, up 1.1 percent compared with US$436.13 billion in 2011, the ministry said.
Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), director-general of the ministry’s statistics department, said the monthly decline was because most exporters had delivered their orders in advance of the Christmas holidays.
After adjusting for seasonal factors, last month’s export orders represent a 0.8 percent month-on-month increase, Lin told a press conference.
“Export orders for information and communications products, electronics and precision equipment hit record high levels last year, despite slow global economic growth and a still-fragile world economy,” Lin said.
Last month, driven by strong demand for smartphones and tablets, orders for information and communication (ICT) products totaled US$10.58 billion, down 3.3 percent from US$10.94 billion in November, but up 18.1 percent from US$8.96 billion the previous year, Lin said.
For last year, export orders for ICT products increased 1.4 percent to US$110.56 billion from US$109.03 billion in 2011, she added.
As global demand for integrated chips used in mobile devices continues to increase, export orders for electronics hit their second-highest level over the past year at US$9.08 last month, down 4.6 percent from US$9.51 billion in November, but up 3.8 percent from US$8.74 billion the previous year, Lin said.
Compared with US$101.91 billion in 2011, total orders for electronics reached a record high US$103.35 billion last year with a 1.4 percent annual growth rate, she said.
Supported by increased demand for large panels, export orders for precision equipment rose 12.2 percent year-on-year to US$3.16 billion last month.
Total annual orders climbed to a record level of US$37.01 billion, up 0.8 percent compared with US$36.72 billion in 2011, Lin said.
While export orders from the US, Europe and ASEAN countries last year reached record highs of US$107.21 billion, US$80 billion and US$48.17 respectively, orders from China and Hong Kong, and Japan decreased by 0.8 percent and 5.6 percent respectively to US$111.94 billion and US$40.4 billion, the ministry’s report showed.
Lin said although ICT products, electronics and precision equipment were the top three products by export orders received, more than a half of orders were actually manufactured in emerging markets due to lower labor costs.
“As we forecast the demand for smartphones and tablets will continue to grow, there is a likelihood that overseas production ratios will continue to climb,” Lin said. “However, if more Taiwanese firms plan to invest locally, then that ratio is likely to go down.”
Based on a ministry survey of local manufacturers conducted last month, the sentiment indices for nearly every product except chemicals all stood below the 50-point mark last month, which means only export orders for chemical products are expected to increase this month.
The survey also showed that only 17 percent of companies polled forecast export orders would increase this month, while 50.6 percent said orders would remain flat and 32.4 percent forecast they would decrease.