Tue, Apr 23, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Export orders decline 9 percent

COMPARISON BASE:The Department of Statistics’ Lin Lee-jen said the smartphone market is saturating, while servers and cryptocurrency mining cards were weaker

By Natasha Li  /  Staff reporter

Export orders dropped 9 percent year-on-year to US$38.59 billion last month, the fifth consecutive month of declines, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.

Orders in the first three months declined 8.4 percent to US$107.98 billion, with the quarterly fall the biggest since the first quarter of 2009, the ministry said.

The ministry attributed the declines to continuing trade friction between the US and China, falling global demand and signs of an economic slowdown in the US, which have affected Taiwan’s export-oriented economy.

Department of Statistics Director-General Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞) said that the ministry is conservative about export orders for next month, with estimations of US$35.5 billion to US$36.5 billion.

However, based on statistics from previous years, export orders should recover in July with the arrival of new products that employ new technologies, such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, automotive electronics and 5G networks, Lin said.

With major semiconductor companies indicating that their inventories could fall to healthy levels in the middle of the year, orders could improve then, she said.

Information and communications products remained the most important category of export orders last month, although their value decreased 0.1 percent to US$10.79 billion, ministry data showed.

“The smartphone market is saturating, with stagnating sales since the fourth quarter of last year, while servers and [cryptocurrency] mining graphics cards also came in weaker compared with a year earlier due to a higher comparison base,” Lin said.

Export orders for electronic products fell 11.1 percent to US$10.06 billion due mainly to destocking by semiconductor clients, a decline in demand for cryptocurrency mining cards and a fall in DRAM prices, the ministry said.

The effect of the US-China trade dispute is noticeable on export orders of machinery products, which fell 22.5 percent to US$1.82 billion last month, the ministry said.

Exceptionally high export orders in March last year was also part of the cause for the decrease, it said.

Base metals dropped 20.3 percent to US$2.22 billion, primarily owing to increased tariffs in the US and EU, as well as flagging demand in China, it said.

A year-on-year decline of 15.4 percent to US$1.84 billion for chemical products came as overall demand remained low, even though prices for crude oil rose 4.1 percent last month, Lin said.

Orders received by optoelectronics makers fell 7.7 percent to US$1.94 billion on falling flat-panel prices, which have been hurt by increases in capacity by Chinese competitors, the ministry said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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