The nation’s machine tool exports declined slightly in the first two months of the year, down by 1.2 percent from a year ago, although exports to China rebounded, the latest industrial data showed.
Exports for the first two months of the year dropped to US$479.47 million, down from US$485.35 million a year ago, according to data compiled by the Taiwan Machine Tool and Accessory Builders’ Association (TMBA).
Exports to China, the sector’s largest export destination, grew 2.9 percent during that period US$136.34 million from the US$132.52 million reached in the same period last year, data showed.
Although machine tool buyers in China did not replenish their inventory in January before the Lunar New Year, they significantly increased their purchases last month after the long holiday, association secretary-general Carl Huang (黃建中) said by telephone yesterday.
Exports to China increased 26.3 percent to US$76.1 million last month from US$60.23 million in January, the association’s data showed.
Last month’s figure was 76.9 percent higher than the US$43.01 million reached a year ago, the data showed.
Many Chinese machine tool buyers had problems acquiring funds to make purchases, which hurt a lot of Chinese suppliers, but Taiwanese suppliers were relatively unaffected, Huang said.
“The lack of funds in China affected the demand of low-level machine tools most severely, while Taiwanese machine toolmakers focus mostly on middle-level tools,” he said.
However, exports to the US and Thailand, the sector’s second and third-largest export destinations respectively, declined in the first two months of the year.
Exports to the US dropped 18.9 percent to US$53.68 million from US$66.17 million a year ago, the association’s data showed.
Machine tool demand in the US was low because of a lack of workers in the manufacturing sector, Huang said.
Exports to Thailand were down 26.9 percent to US$27.11 million from US$37.08 million a year ago, the data showed.
“Southeast Asia is the production base of many Japanese enterprises, and the nation’s machine tool exports to the region were significantly affected by the depreciation of the yen,” Huang said.
Exports to Turkey, the sector’s fourth-largest destination, surged 8.9 percent to US$24.82 million from US$22.79 million last year, while exports to Germany, the fifth-largest destination, grew 35 percent to US$21.2 million from US$15.71 million a year ago, the data showed.
Huang said the economic situation in Europe is improving, and Germany is the largest hub for Taiwanese machine tools to enter the region for distribution to other European countries.
Machine tool exports next month are expected to remain as flat as this month, while next quarter is likely to see a sequential increase based on orders received, Huang said.