The nation’s export orders last month contracted for a second consecutive month year-on-year, dragging down first-quarter orders both from the prior quarter and the previous year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Orders were US$35.84 billion last month, down 6.6 percent from US$38.37 billion a year earlier, but up 23.42 percent from US$29.04 billion in February, the ministry’s data showed.
During the first three months of the year, export orders reached US$102.01 billion, down 13.9 percent quarter-on-quarter and 1.7 percent year-on-year, which the ministry attributed to a decrease in orders for electronics, base metals, plastics and chemicals.
“Export orders for last month and last quarter both fell short of our expectations, mainly because the global economic recovery was weaker than we expected,” Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.
As global demand for PCs remained lackluster and new mobile handset products have not yet hit markets, export orders for information and communication products — the nation’s largest export group — fell 5.5 percent to US$8.65 billion last month from US$8.15 billion a year ago, according to the ministry’s report.
During the period from January to last month, export orders for information and communication products edged up 1.3 percent to US$25.14 billion from US$24.81 billion during the same period of last year.
Despite vigorous demand for semiconductors and chips on the back of strong demand for mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, export orders of electronics — the nation’s second-largest export commodity — shrank 5.5 percent to US$8.44 billion last month from US$7.95 billion a year ago, the report said.
Electronics export orders during the first quarter declined 2.8 percent to US$23.78 billion from US$23.09 billion in the same period last year.
Machinery manufacturing was the only sector that saw export orders expand in the first quarter, with orders growing 5 percent to US$4.95 billion from US$4.71 billion during the same period of last year.
By country, export orders from Japan dipped by the largest amount last month and last quarter because of the depreciation of Japanese yen, the ministry said. On an annual basis, export orders from Japan fell 15.6 percent last month and 12.4 percent from last quarter.
Six ASEAN countries — Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam — placed a total of US$4.06 billion and US$11.71 billion of export orders last month and last quarter, as the only regional markets that increased orders on an annual basis, by 0.2 percent and 5 percent respectively.