Tue, Oct 23, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Export orders hit highs, miss forecasts

SLOWING MODERATELY:Export orders rose to the most for the month of September, but the amount was lower than the range forecast by the Ministry of Economic Affairs

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s export orders last month continued to rise and set new records, but the level fell short of previous forecasts, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.

Export orders rose 4.2 percent year-on-year to US$47.86 billion, the highest level for the month of September, but the amount was lower than the US$48.2 billion to US$49.2 billion range forecast by the ministry a month ago.

The annual pace of increase was also lower than DBS Bank Ltd’s 6.7 percent growth forecast and weaker than the 7.1 percent increase recorded in August.

The launch of major smartphones and wearable devices continued to drive export orders throughout the supply chain, while emerging technology trends including artificial intelligence have helped offset cooling demand for products used for cryptocurrency mining, Department of Statistics Director-General Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞) said.

Information and communication export orders rose 6.2 percent year-on-year to US$15.57 billion, while electronics export orders rose 10.2 percent to US$12.92 billion, the ministry’s report showed.

Optoelectronics orders dipped 10.8 percent due to weakening demand for small to medium panels, while orders for machinery goods were hit by ongoing US-China trade tensions, down 5.3 percent to US$1.74 billion.

The decline in machinery goods export orders was sharp and sudden as orders between January and August had risen 21.6 percent year-on-year, Lin said.

Compared with the previous month, machinery orders fell 21.2 percent, marking the first monthly decline in the past 26 months, she said.

Machinery orders from China and Hong Kong fell US$110 million last month and orders from Europe fell US$30 million compared with the previous month, ministry data showed.

As most Taiwanese machinery goods are destined for the Chinese market, there have been little signs that local suppliers have been boosted by spillover effects from the escalating US-China trade dispute, Lin said.

China is the nation’s second-largest buyer of machinery goods and the ministry would continue to monitor shifts in demand and growth momentum, she said.

Machinery orders could be further challenged by slowdowns in the Chinese economy as businesses turn tentative on spending and making investments, she added.

Plastics and rubber export orders fell 3.6 percent year-on-year to US$1.92 billion due to a high base set last year and the lower prices of end products, ministry data showed.

Looking ahead, export orders are forecast to continue growing between 3.1 and 5.1 percent month-on-month to reach between US$48 billion and US$49 billion this month thanks to it being the peak season for consumer electronics, Lin said.

“There are so far few signs that external demand will deteriorate sharply, despite the worsening US-China trade tensions and the implementation of US tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese products,” Singapore-based DBS Bank economist Ma Tieying (馬鐵英) said yesterday in a note released ahead of the ministry’s report.

Customs-cleared exports for last month, released on Oct. 8 by the Ministry of Finance, beat market expectations by increasing 2.6 percent year-on-year, she added.

“We maintain the view that the economy will slow moderately during the third and fourth quarters in 2018, before feeling the repercussions of the trade war more notably in 2019,” she said.

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