Exports last month rose by 0.9 percent from a year earlier, after showing a year-on-year decline in April, mainly on the back of steady demand for electronic products, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
The mild recovery in exports may continue this year, with growing momentum expected to improve in the second half of the year, the ministry said.
Outbound shipments totaled US$26.34 billion last month, up 0.9 percent from a year earlier and 5.2 percent from a month earlier, the ministry said in its monthly report.
Exports in the first five months totaled US$124.01 billion, an increase of 1.2 percent from a year ago, the report said.
“The sluggish global economic recovery dragged down the nation’s trading volume,” Yeh Maan-tzwu (葉滿足), the ministry’s statistics department director, told a press conference.
Shipments of electronic products totaled US$7.43 billion last month, up 5.2 percent from a year earlier, marking the fourth-highest level in history and further raising the momentum of overall outbound shipments, Yeh said.
Exports of information technology and communications (ICT) products, which grew by 13.9 percent to US$1.57 billion last month from a year earlier, also marked the highest level since November 2011, following an improvement in the shipments of Taiwanese smartphone vendor HTC Corp (宏達電), Yeh added.
However, machinery exports dropped by 6.7 percent to US$2.26 billion last month from a year ago, its eighth straight month of decline, as recent depreciation of the yen attracted more orders from Japan and further affected demand at Taiwanese machinery manufacturers.
Yeh said exports this month may maintain to grow on the back of a low base last year, with a mild growing trend expected to continue in the second half of this year.
Annual growth of exports in the second quarter might reach the target of 0.21 percent set by the government last month, Yeh added.
Tony Phoo (符銘財), a Taipei-based economist at Standard Chartered Bank, said exports last month indicated the technology recovery remains intact, with the overall growth outlook in the second half of this year remaining positive.
“[The results] suggest that steady demand for tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices continues to benefit local technology producers,” Phoo said in a research note.
The ministry’s report also showed imports last month dropped by 8 percent from a year earlier and 3.9 percent from the previous month to US$21.89 billion, with inbound shipments in the first five months down 0.9 percent to US$112.65 billion.
The ministry attributed the decline to weaker imports of agricultural and industrial materials, citing lower prices of global materials and slowing demand at local exporters.
However, inbound shipments of capital equipment posted a 6.8 percent year-on-year expansion to US$3.56 billion last month, marking the highest level since June 2011, mainly on the back of rising investments in the semiconductor sector, the report’s data showed.
As a result, the trade surplus widened to US$4.46 billion last month, up US$2.15 billion from a year earlier, data showed.