Export orders for information and communications products reached record levels last month, but overall orders declined for the sixth consecutive month, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Orders for information and communications products grew 3.3 percent from a year earlier to US$10.53 billion thanks to increased shipments for smartphones, notebook computers and network communication equipment, the ministry said.
However, total export orders declined 3.7 percent year-on-year to US$37.66 billion, although that exceeded the ministry’s forecast of US$36.5 billion, Department of Statistics Director-General Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞) said.
The ministry attributed the decline to falling global demand due to an economic slowdown and client-side inventory adjustments in the semiconductor industry, which led to a year-on-year decline of 4.6 percent in orders for electronics to US$9.72 billion.
A decrease in demand for wafer foundry, wafer probe and packaging services, as well as DRAM chips, also affected the sector, the ministry said.
Export orders for optical equipment dropped 8.9 percent to US$1.76 billion due to slipping demand for large display panels and price cuts amid increased production in China, it said.
Higher US and EU tariffs on steel products led to a decrease in demand for steel and a drop in prices, which led to a decline of 9.4 percent in export orders for base-metal products, the ministry said.
The US-China trade dispute has had a lingering effect on prices for plastic and rubber products, pushing export orders down 6.8 percent year-on-year, while the effect on chemical products was a fall of 12.5 percent, the ministry said.
Machinery equipment was also hit by the trade dispute, reporting a decrease in export orders of 21.9 percent year-on-year, mainly due to a drop in Chinese investment, it said.
The ministry gave a conservative outlook for orders this month.
Improvement should be visible by the second half of the year, Lin said.
Potential US tariff increases on more Chinese goods, including smartphones and computers, would affect exports going forward, she said.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said that potential US sanctions on Huawei Technologies Co (華為) products would not affect Taiwanese firms in its smartphone supply chain too much, as they would move to supply other clients.
The US remained Taiwan’s biggest source of exports, placing US$10.25 billion in orders last month, followed by China, including Hong Kong, (US$9.51 billion) and Europe (US$7.67 billion), the ministry said.
Orders totaled US$3.46 billion for ASEAN members and US$2.2 billion for Japan, it said.
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