The industrial production index increased 2.1 percent during the first two months of the year, driven mainly by increased output from the country’s manufacturing and fuel supply sectors, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
However, more than 70 percent of the polled manufacturers said they did not expect their production to grow this month from last month, the ministry said, citing its latest survey.
During the January-to-February period, output from the manufacturing sector — which accounts for more than 90 percent of the country’s total industrial output — increased 2.32 percent, according to the ministry’s data.
Output from the fuel supply sector — Taiwan’s No. 2 industrial product item — grew 3.18 percent during the first two months from a year earlier, the data showed.
“Manufacturing production expanded during the first two months mainly because of increased output of semiconductors, LED and solar products, as well as that of steel, petrochemicals and auto parts,” the ministry said.
Supported by strong market demand for mid and low-end mobile devices, IC output increased 7.52 percent during the first two months and production from the electronic component sector increased 5.78 percent over the same period from a year ago.
Because of a low comparison base and increased output from CPC Corp, Taiwan’s (CPC, 中油) new naphtha cracker in Greater Kaohsiung, output of petrochemicals grew 2.68 percent during the two-month period.
However, output of PC-related equipment and optical products contracted 8.01 percent during the January-to-February period due to weakened demand for TVs and cameras, the ministry said.
“The country’s semiconductor, optical products, petrochemicals, machinery and auto production are likely to continue growing, boosting total manufacturing production this quarter to achieve sequential growth from last quarter,” the ministry said.
“However, uncertainties such as the US Federal Reserve’s tapering of its quantitative easing policy, deceleration of China’s economic growth and South Korea’s signings of free-trade agreements with other countries should all be considered,” it added.
A survey conducted by the ministry shows that only 28.5 percent of firms polled forecast the country’s manufacturing production would grow this month from last month, while 61.4 percent forecast production would flatten and 10.1 percent said that it would drop.
Meanwhile, the ministry said yesterday that commercial sales — which include the wholesale, retail and restaurant sectors — increased 2.1 percent to NT$2.3 trillion (US$75.32 billion) during the first two months of the year.
It said commercial sales dropped 14.3 percent to NT$1.6 trillion last month, largely because of a shorter Lunar New Year holiday this year, which dragged down sales from the nation’s retail sector by 3.8 percent and those from the restaurant sector by 0.7 percent year-on-year.