Sat, Dec 08, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Exports fall due to US-China dispute

HARD TARGET:An official said exports would likely continue to shrink this month and it would be very difficult to meet a forecast of 6.2 percent year-on-year growth

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s exports last month contracted by 5.9 percent monthly and 3.4 percent annually to US$27.81 billion, halting a 24-month streak of consecutive growth as the effects of an ongoing US-China trade dispute begin to materialize, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

The unexpected decline was also attributed to a high base of comparison last year, as well as slowing external demand for machinery and lackluster market reception for Apple Inc’s new trio of iPhones, Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) told a news conference in Taipei.

“Up until October, companies in most industries had been optimistic about the trade dispute, with some even expecting to benefit as customers divert orders away from China-based manufacturers,” Tsai said, adding that the ministry has detected a drastic shift in sentiment over the past month.

“Many companies have begun bracing for the effects on demand and consumption, even bellwethers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電),” Tsai said.

TSMC is the world’s largest contract chipmaker and the sole supplier of processors for iPhones.

Exports of specialized machinery last month dropped 29.5 percent from a year earlier, with total outbound shipments falling 13.4 percent annually to US$2.06 billion.

Electronic components also dropped 5.7 percent annually to US$9.62 billion, with solar battery shipments declining 80.4 percent, or US$120 million.

A precipitous drop in cryptocurrency mining rigs has also affected chip designers, Tsai said.

Still, cumulative exports in the first 11 months of this year rose 11.4 percent annually to US$262.76 billion on the back of strong growth in the first half, the ministry said.

Mineral products were among the only bright spots, with outbound shipments rising US$390 million, or 42.1 percent, from a year earlier, while exports of diesel and gasoline also rose 37.1 percent and about 120 percent respectively, ministry data showed.

Imports last month dipped 11.6 percent monthly to US$23.16 billion, but were 1.1 percent higher than a year earlier.

The trade surplus last month totaled US$4.65 billion, falling US$1.23 billion from October.

In the first 11 months of the year, the trade surplus totaled US$44.7 billion, a decrease of US$7.15 billion from the same period last year, the ministry said.

Exports are likely to continue decreasing this month and it would be very difficult to meet the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics’ export estimate for this year, Tsai said.

The agency on Friday last week forecast that exports could rise 6.2 percent year-on-year to a record high of US$336.92 billion this year.

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