Industrial production weakened for a fourth consecutive month last month, as manufacturers faced intense competition in the global market and the adverse impact of a weak yen, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
The industrial production index last month declined 0.07 percent from a year ago, but improved 4.86 percent from April, the ministry told a press conference.
Production in the manufacturing sector — which accounts for more than 90 percent of the nation’s total factory output — declined 0.91 percent year-on-year, but increased 4.26 percent month-on-month last month.
“The annual drop in manufacturing output was very near zero last month, which shows an improvement in the manufacturing sector,” said Yang Kuei-hsien (楊貴顯), deputy director-general of the ministry’s statistics department.
The ministry attributed last month’s results to improved output in the fields of semiconductors, LED, optical materials, oil products, medical supplies, automobiles, cleaning products and cosmetics.
Yang said manufacturing output could post growth this month, bolstered by the strong demand for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, as well as a low base in June last year.
The robust demand for handheld devices is expected to continue driving demand for high-end chips and wafers using advanced process technologies, he added.
The ministry’s latest survey of local manufacturers also showed that 70.1 percent of those polled expected the industrial production index to be unchanged this month, 18 percent predicted a drop and 11.9 percent projected an increase.
The ministry yesterday also released its latest commercial trade data for last month, which showed that combined sales in the retail, wholesale and food & beverage sectors dropped 1.9 percent year-on-year to NT$1.18 trillion (US$39.19 billion) last month.
However, the figure rose 2.2 percent from April.
Concern over food safety following the discovery of tainted starch led to slower restaurant sales, which dropped 1.8 percent to NT$27.8 billion last month from NT$28.3 billion during the same period last year.
However, compared with the previous month’s NT$24.8 billion, restaurant sales still rose 12.1 percent last month, the ministry’s data showed.
The ministry said sales of “pearl tea,” a popular drink, were affected by the food scare, but beverage sales in general grew 10.1 percent year-on-year to NT$3.6 billion last month because of a wide variety of choice for customers.