Annual growth in exports slowed last month as demand from China and Hong Kong shrank, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
Outbound shipments last month edged up 1.6 percent from a year ago to US$25.3 billion, marking the third consecutive month of annual expansion, but much slower compared with June’s 8.6 percent growth, the ministry said in a report.
On a monthly basis, exports were down 4.4 percent from June, the report showed.
For the first seven months of the year, exports totaled US$175.74 billion, an increase of 2.3 percent from a year ago, the report showed.
Exports to China and Hong Kong — the nation’s main export destination — totaled US$9.88 billion last month, down 0.9 percent from a year earlier, marking their first year-on-year decline since August last year after excluding the Lunar New Year-effect, the ministry said.
China and Hong Kong were the only region to post a year-on-year decline among Taiwan’s major export markets, the ministry’s data showed.
“The continued economic slowdown in China could be a major uncertainty for Taiwanese exports in the near future,” Yeh Maan-tzwu (葉滿足), director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.
Exports to the US grew 1.4 percent year-on-year to US$2.86 billion last month, while shipments to Europe rose 6 percent to US$2.35 billion.
The increases were a reflection of the “mild economic recovery in the US and Europe,” she said.
Exports are likely to continue expanding this quarter compared with a year ago, but it may “take more effort “to achieve the government’s growth target of 4.1 percent,” she added.
Hong Kong-based ANZ Research senior economist Raymond Yeung (楊宇霆) voiced his disappointment over last month’s export performance, despite the New Taiwan dollar having underperformed the South Korean won since the end of June.
Yeung said in a research note that the central bank was likely to continue to ensure an “orderly movement” of the nation’s currency exchange rate, with a slight bias toward the weak side as the pressure of imported inflation remained subdued.
Imports last month dropped 7.6 percent from a year earlier and 4.9 percent from the previous month to US$22.09 billion, the ministry’s report showed.
The ministry attributed the decline to slowing imports of capital equipment, which fell 17.9 percent year-on-year to US$2.9 billion.
The recent decline in prices of agricultural and industrial materials was also a factor, with the sector’s imports decreasing 7.2 percent to US$16.82 billion last month from a year earlier, ministry data showed.
As a result, the trade surplus widened to US$3.21 billion last month, up US$2.23 billion from a year earlier, the data showed.