Exports grew year-on-year last month after 14 consecutive months of decline, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
Helped by recovering demand in Europe and Southeast Asian countries, who joined China in buying more electronics, exports grew 19.4 percent to US$20.02 billion compared with US$16.77 billion a year earlier, representing the first year-on-year expansion since August last year, the ministry’s statistics department said. It was also the best performance in 13 months.
“This is an encouraging sign,” said Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), head of the statistics department. “The recovery in the global economy and the lower base [the relatively low exports a year ago] are boosting growth.”
Exports are expected to stabilize in the following months at around US$20 billion as major destinations such as the US and Japan could return to annual growth this month, Lin said.
Exports to Europe grew 3.9 percent and those to Southeast Asian countries by 17.5 percent last month, ending 14 months and 15 months of year-on-year declines respectively, Lin said.
However, “China will still be the main growth area. Taiwan’s exports may show robust growth ahead of the Lunar New Year [shopping season in China],” Cheng Cheng-mount (鄭貞茂), Citigroup’s chief economist based in Taipei, said by phone.
Manufacturers are expected to see rising demand for netbooks, smartphones, digital TVs and game consoles helped by economic growth in China, Cheng said.
China, the nation’s biggest export destination and the first market to rebound from last year’s trough, purchased about US$8.32 billion in electronics from Taiwanese manufacturers last month, representing a 48 percent rise from a year ago, the ministry’s figures showed.
Overall, demand for liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panels for PCs and TVs, mobile phones and chemical materials saw the strongest rebound last month, the figures showed.
For the full year, Taiwan’s exports may post their deepest annual decline ever at 20 percent, compared with a 17 percent drop during the last economic recession in 2001, the ministry said. In the first 11 months, exports plunged 24 percent year-on-year to US$183.64 billion.
Meanwhile, the nation’s imports rebounded to US$17.9 billion last month, hitting the highest level in 14 months and bringing the nation’s trade surplus to US$2.11 billion.
Last month’s imports also represented the first year-on-year growth since October last year, rising 18 percent.
Capital equipment increased 35.6 percent to US$2.91 billion, with the fastest growth from imports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, the statistics showed.
The rebound in exports and imports reflected “a gradual improvement in export momentum and [private] investment,” Lin said.
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