Exports grew slower than expected last month from a year earlier, mainly because of a sluggish global economy which dragged down demand for basic metals and other Taiwanese products, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
However, the ministry said it expected exports this month to show growth either on a monthly or yearly basis on increasing shipments of minerals and electronics products.
Outbound shipments totaled US$24.89 billion last month, recovering from a 1.9 percent decline in October to edge up 0.9 percent, the ministry said in a report.
However, “the pace of growth was slower than our expectations [given that] November is usually a peak period for exports,” Yeh Maan-tzwu (葉滿足), director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.
On a monthly basis, exports also marked a second straight month of contraction, sliding 6.2 percent last month, the report said.
Cumulative exports in the first 11 months of the year dropped 3.3 percent to US$275.01 billion.
Weaker shipments of basic metals and products, which fell 13.7 percent year-on-year to US$2.04 billion last month, were the main culprit behind the lower-than-expected growth in exports, Yeh said.
Exports of information and communication technology (ICT) products fell 14.4 percent from a year earlier to US$1.38 billion last month, but the pace of decline has slowed, Yeh added.
However, exports of minerals and electronic products last month remained steady, rising 19.3 percent and 7.4 percent respectively from a year earlier, data showed.
Yeh said she expected these two sectors to drive export growth this month, leading to a positive growth in the fourth quarter compared with a year ago.
For next year, Yeh said export growth was likely to be mild, in line with the global economy’s recovery pace.
“I wouldn’t be too optimistic or pessimistic about it,” Yeh said.
The Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics’ (DGBAS) latest forecast made last month placed export growth next year at 5.1 percent.
On the import front, inbound shipments last month edged up 0.1 percent from a year ago to US$21.49 billion, down from October’s US$23.27 billion.
Cumulative imports in the first 11 months of the year were also down 4.3 percent to US$248.76 billion, ministry data showed.
That resulted in a trade surplus of US$3.4 billion last month, up US$190 million from a year ago, lifting the trade surplus in the first 11 months by US$1.76 billion to US$26.26 billion, data showed.
Last month’s disappointing growth is an indication that Taiwanese exporters continue to face difficulties with “foreign demand in a sustained lull,” Sydney-based Moody’s Analytics associate economist Katrina Ell said.
“But we have seen improvement in foreign demand, with industrial production and export orders finally turning upward,” Ell said in a note yesterday, referring to the latest data released late last month showing continued improvement in the domestic manufacturing sector.