The industrial production index rose to a record-high 112.56 last month, as new product launches by global handset brands spurred demand for Taiwanese electronics products, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Annual output expanded by 8.97 percent last month, moderating from a 10.3 percent expansion in the previous month, Department of Statistics Deputy Director-General Yang Kuei-hsien (楊貴顯) said.
While a survey conducted by the ministry showed that industrial output is likely to drop sequentially this month, it remains on the right track, it said.
Growth in production is expected to be sustainable this quarter, compared with the same period last year, supported by increasing demand for wearable devices and the Internet of Things, Yang said.
The manufacturing sub-index — which accounts for 92.76 percent of the industrial production index — increased 9 percent year-on-year and 2.76 percent month-on-month last month, thanks to strong performances by the semiconductor, LED and optic modulator industries, Yang said.
LCD panel output also improved, edging down only 0.94 percent year-on-year and 8.26 percent from the previous month, ministry data show.
For the first 10 months of the year, industrial production rose 5.94 percent from a year earlier, Yang said, adding that the manufacturing sub-sector increased 6.28 percent annually over the period.
Commenting on the potential impact of the impending China-South Korea free-trade agreement, Yang said that many Taiwanese companies have expressed concern over the pact, urging the government to ink a cross-strait trade in goods agreement as soon as possible to get lower tariffs for entering the Chinese market.
In a separate release, the ministry said that commercial sales — comprising the wholesale, retail and restaurant sectors — rose 1.5 percent annually to NT$1.2481 trillion (US$40.24 billion) and 0.3 percent sequentially last month, aided by annual sales promotions.
Wholesale revenue fell 2.1 percent sequentially to NT$862.2 billion last month because of seasonal factors. However, on an annual basis, the figure was up 0.8 percent.
Food, beverage and tobacco sales dropped 2.4 percent year-on-year and 1.5 percent month-on-month to NT$75 billion last month, Yang said, attributing the decline to the tainted oil scandal.
Meanwhile, retail revenue rose 3.3 percent to NT$353.5 billion last month from NT$342.4 billion a year ago. The ministry attributed the growth primarily to strong replacement demand for cars and scooters, and higher sales of information technology products due to annual sales promotions.
On a monthly basis, retail sales climbed 6.8 percent from NT$331 billion the previous month.
Retail sales of home appliances also rose 9.1 percent from a year ago and 5.9 percent from the previous month to NT$30.8 billion last month, thanks to growing demand for cooking appliances because of the food safety scandals, Yang said.
“More people preferred to cook than eat out, which boosted sales of cooking appliances,” he added.
Revenue from restaurant operators inched up 0.9 percent annually to NT$32.4 billion from NT$32.1 billion. However, compared with September’s NT$32.7 billion, revenue contracted 1.1 percent due to the scandals.
For this month, overall commercial revenue is expected to fall slightly from last month, mostly because of the gloomy outlook for the restaurant sector, based on a survey by the ministry.
The ministry said that unresolved food issues and falling gold prices likely influenced the pessimistic outlook.
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