The nation’s export orders increased 0.5 percent year-on-year to US$36.11 billion last month, ending five straight months of contraction, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
While the ministry attributed the increase to improved economic conditions in Europe, the US and Japan, a low comparison base last year was also a factor, Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.
“Export orders in July did not achieve significant annual growth, but remained stable, given that orders during the same period last month fell to last year’s lowest level of US$35.94 billion,” Lin said.
On a monthly basis, orders last month increased 2.9 percent from US$35.1 billion in June.
Cumulative orders of US$245.24 billion during the first seven months of the year were 1.4 percent lower than the US$248.68 billion during the same period last year, according to data compiled by the ministry.
“Orders during the second half of the year are likely to achieve sequential annual growth with foreign and local firms, including Sony Corp, Samsung Electronics Co, HTC Corp (宏達電) and Apple Inc launching several new mid-end smartphone and tablet products in the next few months,” Lin said.
“Growing demand for handheld devices may drive up orders for components such as chips, semiconductors and panels, leading the country’s total orders during the July-to-December period to grow compared with the first half,” she added.
However, because demand for desktops and laptops remains tepid due to the rise of handheld devices and because of intense competition in the high-end smartphone and tablet markets, uncertainties related to market competition and structural changes in the PC market should also be factored in, Lin said.
Despite orders during the first half of this year having contracted 1.7 percent to US$209.12 billion from US$212.74 billion a year earlier, total orders this year are expected to increase from US$441.01 billion last year, Lin said.
“It’s possible this year’s orders will surpass those received last year, but such an outcome would require substantial efforts from the public and private sectors,” she said.
Last month, orders for information and communication products totaled US$9.16 billion, up 2.7 percent year-on-year, but down 2.3 percent month-on-month, according to the ministry’s statement.
The ministry said orders for information and communication products dropped last month from the previous month because of decreased demand for traditional PCs.
Robust demand for handheld devices led orders for semiconductors and chips to grow 2.8 percent month-on-month and 0.3 percent year-on-year to US$8.6 billion last month.
Orders for touch panels and optical lenses were US$2.94 billion, up 2.6 percent month-on-month, but down 0.3 percent year-on-year, the statement showed.
“While momentum has been lacking in recent months, we expect export orders to improve in the later part of the year,” Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) Greater China economist Louis Lam (林慕爾) said in an e-mailed note yesterday.
“The improvement of the US market, as signaled by recent PMI readings, will likely offset the impact of the slowdown elsewhere,” he said.