Export orders last month posted the first annual growth in 13 months to US$43.8 billion, driven by increasing orders for smartphones, 5G chips and machine tools amid easing US-China trade tensions, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Different from customs-cleared exports, export orders are a critical gauge of how actual exports are likely to perform in one to three months.
The outlook for this quarter is positive as easing US-China trade tension might stimulate trade and investment worldwide, the ministry said.
“Hopefully, export orders in the first quarter would exceed the amount achieved in the first quarter of last year,” Department of Statistics Director Huang Yu-ling (黃于玲) said by telephone.
Export orders totaled US$107.98 billion in the first quarter of last year.
This month, export orders are likely to decrease 8.6 to 11 percent annually to US$36 billion to US$37 billion, as seasonal factors and a weak global economy might depress demand, the ministry said, citing a survey last month of local manufacturers.
Last month, export orders inched up 0.9 percent from US$43.38 billion a year earlier, with the electronics segment showing the fastest pace of growth, ministry data showed.
Last year as a whole, export orders contracted 5.3 percent annually to US$484.56 billion from US$511.82 billion, according to the statistics compiled by the ministry.
Electronics orders expanded 4.7 percent annually to US$12.18 billion last month for the third consecutive month of annual growth.
“Easing trade tensions between the US and China played an important part in rebooting Taiwan’s export orders in December,” Huang said.
“Increasing adoption of emerging technologies also helped drive demand for 5G-related products such as advanced chips, networking and Internet of Things devices,” Huang added.
Export orders for information and communications technology products last month rose 0.4 percent to US$13.89 billion, as growth in smartphones and graphic cards were offset by a decline in notebook computers.
A rebound in demand for base metals, steel, machine tools and petrochemical products also helped prop up export orders, the ministry said, adding that machine tool and semiconductor equipment orders grew 5.1 percent to US$1.77 billion, snapping 13 months of annual decline.
The rebound indicated that equipment investments overseas are reviving, primarily in China, Huang said.
Orders from China including Hong Kong, the second-biggest export destination for Taiwanese goods, rose 5.6 percent annually to US$10.39 billion, with the strongest growth coming from machine tools.
The ministry attributed the growth to China’s fast 5G infrastructure deployment, which stimulated demand for 5G chips from foundry and chip designers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) and MediaTek Inc (聯發科).
Demand from the US, the biggest export market for Taiwan, fell 8.8 percent to US$12.71 billion as lingering uncertainty over the US-China trade dispute dampened electronics demand.
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