Exports rise for a third straight month

LUNAR NEW YEAR EFFECT::Aside from a mild global economic pickup, outbound shipments posted an increase because of fewer working days in January last year

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Feb 08, 2013 - Page 13

Exports rose for a third consecutive month last month, as a mild global economic recovery bolstered demand for Taiwanese products, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

Outbound shipments rose 21.8 percent to US$25.67 billion last month from a year earlier, stronger than the 9 percent growth recorded in December last year and marking its largest increase in nearly two years, the ministry said in its monthly report.

However, on a monthly basis, outbound shipments declined 1.6 percent last month, mainly due to lower seasonal demand for electronics and information technology and communications (ICT) products following the end of the holiday sales season, the report said.

Yeh Maan-tzwu (葉滿足), director of the ministry’s statistics department, also attributed the strong year-on-year growth in exports to the Lunar New Year effect — in this case, a lower comparison base because the annual holiday fell in January last year.

That same effect could result in a decline in exports this month because of fewer working days, Yeh added.

Nonetheless, the latest figures confirm a rising trend in exports, Yeh said.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, exports increased 5.2 percent last month, a sixth consecutive month of growth, signifying that exports are gaining upward momentum, the ministry’s report said.

Last month, the IMF raised its forecast for annual growth in global trading volume to 3.8 percent this year, from its previous estimate of 2.8 percent estimated previously, which is also in line with the uptrend, Yeh said.

Katrina Ell, a Sydney-based associate economist at Moody’s Analytics, agreed, saying that exports could continue to trend higher as worldwide demand was improving.

China and the US — the two key destinations for Taiwanese goods — are past the trough in terms of demand and Taiwan’s economic performance tends to track that of the global economy, Ell said in a research note.

On the import front, shipments last month rose 22.3 percent from a year ago to US$25.2 billion, marking the highest level since May 2011, according to the ministry’s report.

The seasonally adjusted rate in imports increased 12.6 percent last month, the report showed.

Imports of both agricultural and industrial raw materials, as well as capital equipment, rose to their highest level in nearly a year, which bode well for exports and investments, the ministry said.

The trade surplus last month was US$470 million, down 0.4 percent from a year earlier, data showed.