The nation’s exports last month rose 0.5 percent to US$28.39 billion, a record for June, as demand for electronics gained momentum ahead of the launches of next-generation devices, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
The surprising pickup reversed seven consecutive months of decline, but the ministry hesitated to speculate on a recovery, saying that uncertainty lingers and most firms remain conservative in their outlook.
“It is premature to say, due to poor visibility, whether the pickup is an isolated occurrence or the sign of a stable uptrend,” Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) said in a report.
Outbound shipments could go either way this month, as well as beyond that, depending on how the global economy unfolds, Tsai said.
Export data showed that outbound shipments of semiconductors rose 8 percent to US$8.05 billion, outperforming the 3.3 percent increase for electronics shipments.
Inventory demand from international technology brands likely underpinned the showing, Tsai said, alluding to Apple Inc.
Chip supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) is to offer guidance during its quarterly investors’ conference next week.
Exports of information and communications products increased 20.2 percent from a year earlier, as makers of computer components moved facilities home from China, Tsai said.
The relocations enabled shipments to the US to increase 18.5 percent, but shipments to all other destinations — China, Europe, Japan and ASEAN markets — fell, the report said.
China made up 38.7 percent of exports, its second-lowest total ever, while the US made up 13.9 percent, its highest in 13 years, Tsai said.
Exports of chemical and plastic products continued to shrink at a double-digit percentage pace, as languid demand weighed on raw material prices, she said.
Last month’s imports recovered faster with a 6.6 percent increase to US$24.51 billion, thanks to the aggressive purchasing of capital equipment by local firms, leaving a trade surplus of US$3.87 billion for the month, a 26.1 percent retreat from a year earlier, it said.
Imports of semiconductor capital equipment nearly doubled as firms sought to stay out in front of the global market, Tsai said, adding that facility relocations and foreign investment in Taiwan also lent support.
Second-quarter exports fell 2.6 percent to US$81.91 billion, while imports rose 0.9 percent to US$70.89 billion, both beating a May forecast by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, Tsai said.
“Again, I cannot say that trade tensions have turned out less severe, as things have not yet settled,” she said.
In the first half of this year, exports contracted 3.4 percent, while imports squeezed out a 0.1 percent increase, the report said.
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