The nation’s export orders contracted for the fifth consecutive month last month, falling 3.4 percent month-on-month and 3.5 percent year-on-year to US$35.1 billion, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
The ministry attributed the unexpected consecutive contractions to lukewarm sales of high-end smartphones in saturated markets and shrinking demand for traditional PC products.
Despite rising demand for mobile devices in emerging markets piling up orders on the local supply chain for semiconductors and chips, drops in orders for traditional PCs, high-end smartphones and selected traditional goods dragged down total export orders last month.
For the first six months of the year, total export orders fell 1.7 percent to US$209.12 billion from US$212.74 billion a year earlier, the ministry said, citing the slow pace of the global economic recovery.
By product, orders for information and communications products — which accounted for 25.2 percent of the nation’s export orders — increased the most by 0.8 percent to US$52.6 billion during the first half of the year.
However, orders for electronics, accounting for 23.4 percent of total orders, fell 1.6 percent to US$48.97 billion during the period from January to last month, the ministry’s data showed.
By country, export orders from the US and six major ASEAN states last month registered increases of 2.6 percent and 5 percent, respectively, while those from China, Europe and Japan declined 1.9 percent, 10.4 percent and 12.8 percent, respectively.
From January through last month, China and Hong Kong remained the largest source of export orders, with the volume of orders growing 1.3 percent to US$54.5 billion from US$53.8 billion a year ago, and the US was still the second-largest source with orders increasing 1.2 percent to US$51.14 billion from US$50.53 billion during the same period last year.
However, export orders from Japan fell 14.5 percent year-on-year in the first six months, and those from Europe decreased 3.8 percent from a year earlier, according to the ministry's data.
“While ups and downs in the latest figures are understandable, local enterprises should remain cautious about changes in volumes of orders during the second half of the year,” Polaris Research Institute (寶華綜合經濟研究院) president Liang Kuo-yuan (梁國源) said yesterday by telephone.
With rising demand for mobile devices gradually taking orders away from the traditional PC sector, Taiwanese tech firms need to catch up and strengthen their presence in the mobile device sector, Liang said.
If the nation fails to implement an integrated supply chain for smartphones and tablets amid stiff competition with South Korea, the drop in the nation’s export orders might widen later this year, he added.
“With new smartphone and tablet products scheduled to be launched by leading brands later this year, there is a likelihood that export orders will receive a boost and rebound to annual growth from this month onward,” Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.
Lin said more export orders for plastics and chemicals are likely to emerge this month because of recent global crude oil price increases and the completion of maintenance works at a number of local petrochemical plants.
However, given macroeconomic uncertainties such as slowing growth in China’s economy and the US Federal Reserve’s potential scaling back of its quantitative easing measures, Lin said growth in the nation’s export orders during the second half of the year might be capped.
According to the ministry’s survey of domestic manufacturers receiving export orders last month, 57 percent of them forecast orders would remain flattish this month from last month, while 20.1 percent expected the amount of orders would increase and 23 percent predicted falling orders this month.
The results of the survey also showed that local companies were expecting export orders for information and communications products and electronics to grow this month, while those for precision equipment would decrease.