Industrial production expanded for the third consecutive quarter by 2.39 percent year-on-year last quarter, as robust handset demand continued to drive local electronics manufacturing output, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said in a report yesterday.
The uptrend is expected to be sustained through this quarter, mainly because many smartphone vendors are planning to sell more entry-level products in emerging markets, which should lift local electronics companies’ output, the ministry said.
Machinery and chemicals are also expected to become key growth engines, as the global economy improves at a steady pace, prompting businesses to increase their equipment purchases, while CPC Corp, Taiwan (中油) is set to resume production at its No. 3 naphtha cracker in Greater Kaohsiung, it added.
Manufacturing output — which accounts for more than 90 percent of industrial production — increased 2.74 percent year-on-year during the first three months of the year, the ministry’s report said.
That is the third straight quarter during which the manufacturing sector saw production rise on an annual basis, it said.
Electronics component production increased 6.94 percent year-on-year last quarter, and semiconductor output increased 10.33 percent during the same period. In contrast, PC and optical products output contracted for the ninth consecutive quarter by 1.41 percent.
“We observed that the output of PC-related products, including components, increased last month mainly because of a pickup in external demand, but whether the growth momentum can be sustained remains a question,” said Yang Kuei-hsien (楊貴顯), deputy director-general of the ministry’s statistics department.
The ministry also released a survey showing that 16.1 percent of manufacturers said their production would increase sequentially this month, 73 percent expect it to be flat and 11 percent predicted a decline.
“Local firms should closely watch political and economic uncertainties in emerging markets and the East European region,” he said.
Separately, the ministry yesterday said domestic commercial sales — which include retail sales, wholesale trade, and food and beverage services — totaled NT$3.47 trillion last quarter, up 2.1 percent year-on-year, but down 5.5 percent quarter-on-quarter.
The figure was a record first-quarter high, driven mainly by strong sales in the automobile sector, and at convenience stores and department stores, it said.