Tue, Oct 09, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Exports record second-highest monthly figure ever

ROBUST DEMAND:The Ministry of Finance expects exports to gain pace this quarter, when Apple Inc releases its cheaper iPhone XR, benefiting the firms in its supply chain

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s export growth accelerated last month, increasing 2.6 percent from a year earlier to US$29.6 billion, the second-highest monthly figure ever, thanks to robust inventory demand for new-generation smartphones, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

The pickup beat the ministry’s forecast of a mild decline linked to fewer working days last month.

The ministry now says exports might gain pace this quarter, when Apple Inc is to launch the cheaper iPhone XR, benefiting local firms in its supply chain, Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) said.

“Sales for the US smartphone brand appear to be stronger than expected,” Tsai told a media briefing, referring to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max released last month.

Taiwanese firms supply chips, camera lenses, battery packs, touch panels and other parts for the US tech giant.

The iPhone XR is to hit the market later this month, Tsai said, adding that Apple’s marketing strategy would lead to increased business in its supply chain this quarter from last quarter.

For example, Career Technology Co (嘉聯益), a major flexible printed circuit board supplier for Apple, yesterday reported that revenue last month soared 44.5 percent from a year earlier to NT$1.78 billion (US$57.56 million), the highest since December 2014, she said.

Taiwan’s exports this month would expand between 4 and 7 percent from a year earlier, Tsai said.

Export growth would stay in positive territory in the coming months, despite an annual fuel price hike of 44.4 percent, she said.

A product breakdown showed that shipments of electronic parts, the main export driver, slipped 0.5 percent to US$10.12 billion, while shipments of information and communication products fell 1.3 percent to US$3.05 billion, the ministry said.

Exports of machinery products declined 1.3 percent to US$2.22 billion, ending 23 months of increases, as demand from China tapered off, Tsai said.

Overall shipments to China rose 1.9 percent, as the week-long Chinese National Day holiday helped bolster demand for consumer electronics, Tsai said.

Exports to the US grew 9.4 percent to US$3.6 billion, reflecting a strong economy, but shipments to ASEAN declined 4.2 percent for the third consecutive month to US$5 billion, as demand for electronics from Singapore dwindled, Tsai said, adding the trend might persist due to a structural market shift attributable to the rise of the Chinese supply chain.

Imports grew at a faster 13.9 percent to US$25.29 billion last month, leaving a trade surplus of US$4.33 billion for the month, the ministry added.

The surplus slowed 35 percent from a year earlier.

Imports of capital equipment improved 10.2 percent, while agricultural industrial material added 16.3 percent, it said.

In the July-to-September quarter, exports rose 3.1 percent to US$86.28 billion, while imports advanced 14 percent to US$75.15 billion, dampening the trade surplus by 37.4 percent to US$11.13 billion.

In the first nine months of the year, outbound shipments rose 8.1 percent to US$250.1 billion, while imports increased 11.9 percent to US$213.42 billion, the ministry said.

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