Tue, Sep 10, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Exports up 2.6% on electronics demand

CLOSER ANALYSIS:Shipments to the US grew 22.8%, but the department of statistics director-general said it was only because local firms were moving production home

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s exports last month rose 2.6 percent to US$29 billion — a record high for the period — as demand for electronics from China and the US gained traction, following a contraction of 0.5 percent in July, the Ministry of Finance reported yesterday.

The rebound could prove to be an isolated episode as exports could slip into a contraction this month and next month due to last year’s high comparison base and lingering uncertainty over the global economy, the ministry said.

“Demand for electronics used in high-end smartphones and personal computers picked up from all major partners except for Europe,” Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) told a media briefing in Taipei.

Next-generation smartphones and 5G technology development likely drove the growth, Tsai said.

Apple Inc, Huawei Technologies Co (華為) and other technology giants plan to release new mobile and computing devices this month, which is expected to benefit local firms in their supply chains.

Electronics shipments climbed 7.5 percent to US$10.483 billion with semiconductors growing at a faster 11.7 percent to US$9.37 billion, the ministry’s monthly report showed.

Exports of information and communications products soared 31.4 percent to US$3.8 billion, while optical products increased 2.3 percent to US$1.02 billion, the report showed.

Those products together accounted for 53 percent of all exports.

Exports to China grew 1.1 percent, while shipments to the US swelled 22.8 percent, the report showed.

The ongoing US-China trade dispute has led local firms to shift production home from China, especially for products destined for the US, Tsai said.

The rapid increase in exports to the US did not mean business had improved for local firms, but was a reflection of their production adjustments, she said.

Order transfers benefited some local firms, explaining why shipments of memory chips improved, Tsai said, adding that the trade row between Japan and South Korea probably accounted for order transfers.

Imports remained soft, declining 2.7 percent from a year earlier to US$23.02 billion, due to cheaper oil and raw material prices that led to a trade surplus of US$5.98 billion for last month, nearly 30 percent higher than last year’s figure, the report showed.

Capital equipment imports grew a fractional 0.7 percent after imports of semiconductor equipment shrank 6.1 percent from a year earlier, the report showed.

Looking forward, Tsai said that exports could contract by 1 to 2.5 percent this month due to a high comparison base from September last year, which surpassed the US$29.5 billion mark.

For the first eight months of the year, total exports fell 2.3 percent to US$215.41 billion, while imports dropped 1.1 percent to US$185.94 billion, the report showed.

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