Thu, Nov 08, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Export growth accelerates to 7.3 percent

UNCERTAINTY:Export growth could moderate to a low single-digit number this month due to a high comparison base and the US-China trade row, an official said

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s exports gained 7.3 percent to US$29.57 billion last month, accelerating from a 2.6 percent increase in September, as demand for electronic components remained strong, despite growing uncertainty over the global economy, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

The latest figure represented the third-highest in history for the same month, thanks to demand for semiconductors used in smartphones, computing devices, as well as Internet of Things and artificial intelligence applications, the ministry said.

Higher oil and commodity prices also lent support to robust outbound shipments, it said.

“The pace of growth might moderate to a low single-digit number this month and beyond, consistent with the trend for the entire second half of the year,” Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) said.

A relatively high base last year and an ongoing trade row between the US and China would contribute to the slowdown, Tsai said.

The ministry declined to comment on Apple Inc’s iPhone sales after the US technology giant told investors it would not provide sales details starting this quarter.

Taiwanese firms supply chips, camera lenses, casings, battery packs and other parts for Apple’s smartphones, laptops and wearable devices.

Electronics exports edged up 1 percent to US$10.11 billion last month, accounting for 34.2 percent of total exports, the ministry’s report showed.

Non-technology products grew more rapidly, aided partly by a 43 percent gain in oil prices from a year earlier, the ministry said.

Exports of mineral products surged 52.3 percent from a year earlier, while chemicals and base metals improved by 24.4 percent and 14.2 percent respectively, it said.

Optical products bucked the trend, edging down 0.6 percent due to a supply glut.

Imports fared better, increasing 17.6 percent from a year earlier to US$26.21 billion last month, a four-and-a-half-year high, the report said.

Faster imports slowed the trade surplus to US$3.36 billion, a 36.2 percent retreat from a year earlier, it said.

The trend might weigh on external demand’s contribution to GDP going forward as it did last quarter, officials said.

Moreover, capital equipment imports contracted 1.5 percent, with the decline widening to 15.3 percent for semiconductor equipment, Tsai said.

Several local technology firms have lowered capital spending for this year to accommodate customers’ inventory adjustments.

Cumulative exports rose 8 percent to US$279.66 billion during the January-to-October period, while imports expanded 12.5 percent to US$239.61 billion, the report said.

Outbound shipments might hit a record for the full year, Tsai said.

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