Thu, Feb 08, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Exports rise 15.3% due to demand for tech devices

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s exports rose last month 15.3 percent year-on-year to US$27.38 billion, as demand for technology devices remained strong, although smartphone sales showed signs of a slowdown, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

A low base last year caused by holiday disruptions also lent support to the pace of increase, the ministry said, suggesting that the momentum might taper off this month due to fewer working days.

Chances are high that export growth would slip into negative territory this month, when there will be only 15 working days due to the Lunar New Year holiday, compared with 18 in February last year, Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) said.

“The seasonality is no cause for concern as the global economy continues to expand and the global trade would grow even faster,” Tsai said, citing forecasts by international research bodies.

Shipments of electronic parts advanced 11.8 percent annually to US$8.69 billion, slower than most product categories, as global demand for smartphones showed increasing signs of saturation, Tsai said.

Apple Inc’s iPhone X, in particular, failed to create as big a splash as previous models, she said.

Fortunately, local technology firms have found new business opportunities in connected vehicles, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence applications, she added.

Outbound shipments for mineral, chemical and plastic products picked up by more than 20 percent from a year earlier amid global economic recovery, the report showed.

Last month also saw the nation’s imports rising 23.3 percent to US$24.96 billion, as firms bought capital equipment as well as industrial and agricultural raw materials, although capital equipment imports by local semiconductor firms contracted 13.3 percent year-on-year.

However, an improving economy helped boost imports of consumer items to a new high of US$3.33 billion, Tsai said.

Overall, the nation recorded a trade surplus of US$2.42 billion last month, a 30.8 percent decline from a year earlier, according to the report.

China, including Hong Kong, continued to be the largest destination for Taiwanese goods, accounting for 40.7 percent of outbound shipments, while exports to Southeast Asia gained 13.9 percent and shipments bound for Japan rose 14.4 percent, the report said.

Exports to the US increased 11.1 percent, while those to Eruope grew by a modest 4.3 percent, it showed.

Exports in the first two months of the year might increase between 5 and 10 percent from a year earlier, Tsai said, adding that the combined figure would be a better indicator of actual trade performance after factoring in holiday disruptions.

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