Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Export dip no cause for concern, MOF says

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s exports dipped 1.2 percent year-on-year to US$22.37 billion last month, as a slow technology season and the Lunar New Year holiday depressed outbound shipments, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said yesterday.

The decline is no cause for concern, as the global economy is on a course of expansion, allowing exports to stage a rebound this month and beyond, Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) said.

“Fewer working days and a high base last year accounted for the temporary retreat,” Tsai said. “Stripping seasonal disruptions, outbound shipments are to gain 4.1 percent.”

For the first two months of the year, exports grew 7.3 percent to US$49.75 billion, a record for the period on the back of demand for electronics components, as well as basic metal, chemical and mineral products, she said.

Tsai expects exports to advance faster than average this month, aided by the world’s stronger-than-expected economy.

Improving demand for non-technology products more than offset disappointing sales in high-end smartphones, Tsai said, referring to Apple Inc’s iPhone X series and ongoing inventory adjustments by Chinese brands.

Exports of machinery tools and chemical products remained robust with a 7.8 percent and 7.5 percent increase respectively, despite unfavorable seasonal and holiday factors, the ministry’s report said.

The US, Europe and Japan in particular increased purchases of Taiwanese goods and services, it added.

Imports picked up 0.9 percent to US$19.46 billion last month, weakening the trade surplus by 13.2 percent to US$2.92 billion, the report showed.

However, capital equipment slumped 14 percent to US$2.79 billion, as local firms have yet to recover buying interest, Tsai said.

Imports of consumer goods such as cars, garments and health products rose another 6 percent last month and hit a new high in the first two months, she said.

For the first two months, imports increased 12.4 percent to US$44.42 billion, the report said.

It is too early to gauge the effects of US plans to impose hefty tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum that could prompt retaliation and escalate into a trade war, the ministry said.

Steel accounts for 2.8 percent of Taiwan’s exports to the US, while related products add up to 10 percent, Tsai said, adding that aluminum poses a lesser threat, given that its total amount is less than US$100 million a year.

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