Taiwan’s industrial output contracted 3.28 percent year-on-year last month, the biggest decline in 15 months, because of declining output of machinery equipment, cars and car parts, computers, electronics and optical products, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Last month’s output was 23.79 percent higher than February, when the Lunar New Year holiday shortened the number of working days, the ministry said.
Manufacturing production — which accounts for more than 90 percent of the nation’s total factory output and includes the electronics, chemical, machinery, foodstuffs and textile sectors — declined 3.24 percent year-on-year last month.
In the first quarter, industrial output rose 0.78 percent year-on-year because of an increase in construction activity, but declined 6.1 percent from a quarter ago, the ministry said.
The latest report showed machinery equipment output last month dropped 13.63 percent year-on-year, which was mainly due to increased competition from Japanese companies amid the depreciation of the yen and decreasing global demand.
The output of automobiles and key components for automobiles also declined 9.2 percent from a year earlier as customers waited for prices to decline amid the depreciation of the yen, Yang Kuei-hsien (楊貴顯), deputy director-general of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.
The 7.04 percent year-on-year decline in computers, electronics and optical products last month was mainly due to the reduced output of new smartphones as a result of a shortage of key components, Yang said.
Citing the ministry’s sentiment survey among manufacturers, Yang said the ministry expects industrial output this month to be flat from last month, but to rise slightly compared with a year ago.
As for this quarter, he said industrial output would likely see a quarter-on-quarter increase, but the increase would be mild.
The industrial output data came after the ministry said on Monday that export orders — an indication of shipments for the next one to three months — last month contracted 6.6 percent to US$35.84 billion from US$38.37 billion a year ago, the second consecutive annual decline this year.
Market sentiment has been highly volatile recently, Yang said, adding that the outlook for the second half of this year remained murky.
“For example, the market conditions in the petrochemical and steel industries shifted from positive to gloomy after the Lunar New Year holiday,” Yang said.
On the domestic front, revenue of the wholesale, retail and restaurant sectors was NT$1.18 trillion (US$39.57 billion) last month, down 0.7 percent from a year ago, but 13.7 percent higher than the previous month, the ministry said in a separate report.
Cumulative revenue last quarter amounted to NT$3.44 trillion, up 0.4 percent year-on-year, the data showed.