Tue, Dec 25, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Industrial production falls on tensions

TALL ORDER:Next year’s industrial output figures would be challenged by this year’s performance, which set a high comparison base by bucking cyclical trends

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s industrial production last month declined from the previous month due to US-China trade tensions, but rose on an annual basis thanks to peaking global demand, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.

Industrial output last month fell 4.42 percent from the previous month.

However, indices tracking the nation’s industrial production rose 2.09 percent from a year earlier to 111.3. Still, the annual expansion was lower than the previous month’s 8.32 percent, Department of Statistics data showed.

The output of the manufacturing sector, which accounts for more than 90 percent of total industrial production, dropped 4.35 percent monthly, but rose 2.23 percent annually.

“With many variables affecting demand for smartphones and consumer electronics looming, it would take more time to gauge the prospects next year,” department Deputy Director-General Wang Shu-chuan (王淑娟) told a news conference in Taipei.

Next year’s performance would be challenged by a high comparison base this year, as manufacturers bucked cyclical trends and posted robust growth during the first half of the year, a traditionally slow season, she said.

The current peak season should sustain growth until the end of this year, Wang said, adding that export orders last month entered negative territory, which could have implications for industrial output.

Overall, growth in industrial production was led by the technology sector, Wang said.

The production of computer and optoelectronics and other electronic devices rose 12.12 percent annually as companies reallocated production back to Taiwan to mitigate higher tariffs on US-bound servers, network equipment and routers produced in China, she said.

Semiconductors maintained an annual growth of 4.42 percent in output thanks to continued orders requiring high-end fabrication technology, while large display panels also saw growth in output, but demand for small to medium-sized panels remained weak, with printed circuit boards also seeing declines, the data showed.

Among traditional industries, basic metals posted anemic 0.72 percent growth in output due to annual plant maintenance, while petrochemicals also turned to negative growth as volatile oil prices turned customers tentative, they showed.

Automobile and auto parts manufacturing fell 16.1 percent annually amid slowing car sales, the data showed.

Separately, aggressive promotions, in particular by e-commerce operators, helped boost retail sector revenues by 0.4 percent annually to NT$374.3 billion (US$12.14 billion), beating an earlier forecast of a 2 percent annual decline, the ministry said in a separate report yesterday.

Revenues of e-commerce operators on Nov. 11’s Singles’ Day shopping festival surged to their highest in four years, Wang said.

However, traditional retailers, such as department stores, were displaced by the rise of e-commerce and reported a 2.3 percent annual decline in revenues, while revenues of consumer electronics and home appliance big-box stores fell 7 percent from a year earlier, the ministry said.

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