Tue, Jul 08, 2003 - Page 1 News List

June exports increased 3.4% to US$11.6 billion


Exports rose 3.4 percent from a year earlier to US$11.61 billion after rising 2.1 percent in May, due to rising shipments of steel, electronics and optical equipment, the Ministry of Finance reported yesterday.

The 3.4 percent year-on-year exports growth in June was the slowest pace in seven months as the SARS epidemic curbed consumption in China and other key markets in the region.

The imports rose 7.1 percent to US$10.3 billion, up from the US$9.51 billion registered in May, the ministry said.

The trade surplus for June fell 18.7 percent year-on-year to US$1.31 billion, compared with a 9.4 percent rise in May, it added.

The SARS virus, which has now been contained, may continue to depress exports for a couple of months after foreign buyers steered clear of Asia in recent months.

``Exports were still weak in June and may remain so in July because of SARS,'' said Lucas Lee, an economist at Barits International Securities Corp (倍立證券) in Taipei. "We may see shipments pick up this quarter as demand rebounds in the US and China."

Export orders -- indicative of shipments in one to three months -- grew at their slowest pace in more than a year in May, the Ministry of Economic Affairs reported last month.

Exports will probably grow 5 percent this month, Hsu Kuo- chung (許國忠), statistics chief at the ministry, said.

He said shipments to the US and Hong Kong may grow in the second half.

The US, the world's biggest economy, is expected to grow at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the third quarter, more than double the 1.4 percent pace reported for the first three months of this year, according to economists.

Retail sales in China, the world's sixth-largest economy, grew at their slowest pace on record in May because consumers in cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou stayed at home to avoid catching SARS. Now the disease has gone, consumer spending will probably pick up, economists said.

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