The industrial production index rose 6.14 percent annually to 106.56 last year, the fastest pace since 2011, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Department of Statistics Deputy Director-General Yang Kuei-hsien (楊貴顯) attributed last year’s impressive performance — following a nearly flat 0.65 percent gain in 2013 — to robust demand for electronics and semiconductors.
“New model launches by global mobile brands boosted shipments in the manufacturing sub-index, which accounted for 92.76 percent of industrial output,” Yang told a press conference.
The manufacturing sub-index, which includes electronics components, computers, semiconductors and optical modulators, rose 6.41 percent annually to a record-high 106.67 last year, data showed.
For this year, industrial production is expected to continue growing in tandem with the launches of new handheld devices, 4G telecommunications services and Internet of Things products, Yang said.
Production output this quarter is expected to increase from the previous quarter and a year ago, he said, but warned of potential headwinds, including rising global competition and China’s expanding local supply chain.
Manufacturers have to keep a close watch on currency and global crude oil price trends, he said.
Last month alone, industrial output jumped 7.33 percent annually to 111.58, mainly driven by double-digit increases in the production of electronics components, computers, optical modulators and machine tools from a year earlier, while petrochemical output declined 4.97 percent due to plummeting crude oil prices.
Separately, the ministry said that commercial sales, which include the wholesale, retail and restaurant sectors, reached a record NT$14.54 trillion (US$462.5 billion) last year, an increase of 2.7 percent from 2013.
Yang attributed the growth to robust wholesale and retail sales, which increased 2.2 percent and 3.9 percent respectively on an annual basis.
For the whole year, sales generated by the wholesale sector totaled NT$10.12 trillion, while the retail sector had NT$4.01 trillion. Restaurant sales also rose 3.1 percent to NT$412.9 billion.
Yang said commercial sales could have been higher if not for the series of food scandals that rocked the nation last year.
For this month, the ministry expects commercial sales to decline slightly from last month’s NT$1.27 trillion due to seasonal factors.
However, commercial sales for the whole year should rise in light of falling crude oil prices and a stable labor market at home, Yang said.
Global oil prices have dropped more than 50 percent since last year, allowing refiners to cut domestic fuel prices and leaving consumers with more money to spend.
The recent passage of regulations on third-party payment services should also be a sales boon for the retail, restaurant and e-commerce sectors this year, Yang added.
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