The nation’s export orders increased 7.4 percent year-on-year to US$35.61 billion last month, falling short of the government’s forecast of annual growth between 16.3 percent and 19.3 percent, due to weaker-than-expected demand for electronics goods, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
The growth momentum is expected to extend into this month as the ministry forecast the export orders would be between US$35.5 billion and US$36.5 billion, a flattish performance from last month’s US$35.61 billion, as the electronics goods sector is expected to continue digesting inventory.
That would translate into a year-on-year increase of between 5.24 percent and 8.21 percent from US$33.73 billion in the same period last year, the ministry said.
“We were very surprised by the results. Orders for electronics goods, which contributed 25.9 percent of total export orders, were affected by the slowing pace of semiconductor inventory digestion,” Department of Statistics Director-General Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞) told a news conference in Taipei.
Export orders for electronics goods grew only 4.1 percent year-on-year to US$9.09 billion last month, as orders from the US fell 4.6 percent, offsetting an increase in orders from China and Hong Kong, as well as Europe, Lin said.
An unexpected slump in the chemicals sector also weighed on the export order growth, she said.
Orders for chemicals contracted 3.1 percent year-on-year to US$1.53 billion last month, weaker than the ministry’s forecast, she said.
Lin blamed the decline on falling international crude oil prices, which started trending down in the middle of last month, causing buyers to remain on the sidelines in expectation of further price reductions.
Orders for information communication technology (ICT) products maintained double-digit percentage year-on-year growth last month.
Orders expanded by 13.1 percent year-on-year to US$10.22 billion last month, the highest amount ever recorded in April, Lin said.
“Robust demand for servers and notebook computers was the main support for ICT orders last month,” she said.
Orders for optical equipment, previously categorized as precision instruments, showed strong year-on-year growth of 22.3 percent last month to US$2.14 billion, driven by demand for larger LCD TV panels.
It was the fourth consecutive month that optical equipment orders posted double-digit annual growth, Lin said.
Orders for basic metals, machinery goods, and rubber and plastics products all climbed last month on the steadily recovering global economy and higher average selling prices compared with the same time the previous year, she said.
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