Export orders grew at the slowest pace in more than a year last month and factory production fell for the first time in 14 months as the SARS epidemic curbed spending at home and in China, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Export orders, an indication of shipments in one to three months, rose 4.6 percent last month from a year earlier to US$13.5 billion on an increase in demand from the US, the ministry said in a statement.
Last month's figure compared with a 6.1-percent rise in March, reflecting the impact of SARS, the statement said.
Production fell 0.7 percent following a revised 1.8 percent increase in March.
Orders rose at their slowest pace since March last year, and production fell for the first time since February last year.
"Because of SARS, manufacturers are facing delays in orders [and] shipments and even cancellation of orders," said Joanne Yang, an economist at Yuanta Core Pacific Securities Co (元大京華證券).
"The situation could deteriorate further in May,'' she said.