Exports for last month came in lower than expected, although the figure increased slightly by US$100 million from a year earlier to end two straight months of annual declines, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
Outbound shipments totaled US$24.89 billion last month, down 4.7 percent from October, the ministry said in its monthly report.
“Demand from the ASEAN block was lower than expected,” Yeh Maan-tzwu (葉滿足), director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.
Exports to ASEAN countries dropped to US$4.37 billion last month, down 9.3 percent from a year earlier and marking the lowest level since July last year. The weakness in shipments to ASEAN offset a 6.5 percent increase in exports to China and Hong Kong, which reached US$10.59 billion last month, the report said.
Yeh said Taiwan’s full-year exports may still show a slight increase from last year, adding that she is confident that outbound shipments this month may at least stay flat from last month.
Cumulative exports in the first 11 months of the year stood at US$277.63 billion, an increase of just 0.9 percent from a year earlier, the report said.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) said Taiwan’s export outlook seems guardedly optimistic.
“As key end-user markets of Asia’s supply chains, the improving economies in the US and Europe should be a positive sign for Taiwan,” ANZ senior Greater China economist Raymond Yeung (楊宇霆) wrote yesterday in a research note.
However, a weakening yen, as well as strong competition from South Korea and China, will continue to create uncertainty for Taiwan’s export sector, especially on technology products, Yeung added.
The ministry’s report also showed that imports last month stood at US$21.38 billion, down 0.5 percent from a year earlier and 5.4 percent from the previous month. It was the fifth month in a row that inbound shipments showed an annual drop.
From January to last month, inbound shipments totaled US$245.89 billion, down 1.1 percent from a year ago, statistics showed.
The decline in imports of agricultural and industrial raw materials, dragged down by falling import prices and lower derivative demand from local exporters, was the major factor behind the weak imports, the ministry said.
Imports of raw materials dropped 4.3 percent from a year earlier to US$15.94 billion last month, ministry data showed.
As a result, the nation’s trade surplus widened to US$3.51 billion last month, up US$110 million from the same period last year, according to ministry’s statistics.
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