Exports last month grew from a year earlier for the second consecutive month, mainly on the back of steady demand from Asian markets for Taiwanese products, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said yesterday.
However, the economic slowdown in China — Taiwan’s main export market — could increase uncertainties in the second half of the year, the ministry added.
Outbound shipments totaled US$26.48 billion last month, up 8.6 percent from a year earlier and 0.5 percent from a month earlier, the ministry said in its monthly report.
Exports in the first six months totaled US$150.48 billion, an increase of 2.4 percent from a year ago, with annual growth in the second quarter also averaging 2.4 percent, the report said.
“Last month’s results showed momentum in the nation’s exports has been stabilizing gradually,” MOF Statistics Department Director Yeh Maan-tzwu (葉滿足) told a press conference.
Shipments of electronic products totaled US$7.57 billion last month, up 10.9 percent from a year earlier, marking the third-highest level in history and further raising the momentum of overall outbound shipments, Yeh said.
Exports of mineral products also grew by 39.4 percent to US$2.13 billion last month from a year ago, following the end of the annual repair period for some plants, Yeh added.
Yeh said electronic and mineral products may remain the steadiest and most important driver for Taiwan’s exports in the second half of this year.
However, China may be a cause for concern for Taiwan’s outbound shipments, Yeh said, citing China’s economic slowdown and increasing capacity in chemical, base metals, plastics and flat panel production.
The developments may further drag down China’s demand for related products made by Taiwanese manufacturers, Yeh added.
“Last month’s trade data is a big upside surprise,” Moody’s Analytics associate economist Katrina Ell said in a research note.
However, Ell said she expected that a sudden return to respectable growth in exports would not be sustainable in coming months, following industrial production and export orders indicating sustained softness in global demand.
Hong Kong-based ANZ Research senior economist Raymond Yeung (楊宇霆) said the central bank will maintain its strategy of “orderly movements” in exchange rates.
However, Yeung said the weakening of other Asian currencies will concern export competitiveness in Taiwan, with policymakers also able to closely watch the risk of imported inflation.
The ministry’s report also showed imports last month surged by 6.8 percent from a year earlier and 6.1 percent from the previous month to US$23.23 billion, with inbound shipments in the first six months up 0.3 percent to US$135.88 billion.
The ministry attributed the decline to stronger imports of capital equipment, which posted a 7.5 percent year-on-year expansion to US$3.54 billion last month, the report’s data showed.
Imports of capital equipment totaled US$10.04 billion in the second quarter, marking the highest level in eight straight quarters, statistics showed.
As a result, the trade surplus widened to US$3.25 billion last month, up US$2640 million from a year earlier, according to the ministry’s data.