Fri, Jan 08, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Exports grow 46.9% year-on-year

PERSPECTIVE The figure may overstate the strength of the rebound, as exports had tumbled 42 percent a year earlier, but it was the second consecutive monthly gain

By Ted Yang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH BLOOMBERG

A man walks in the rain at Keelung Port yesterday. Exports gained 46.9 percent last month compared with a year earlier, when exports tumbled 42 percent.

PHOTO: REUTERS

The nation’s exports climbed the most in more than 14 years last month as the global recovery fueled demand for computers, cellphones and television screens.

Shipments abroad gained 46.9 percent from a year earlier, the fastest pace since February 1995, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

The median estimate of seven economists surveyed by Bloomberg was a 45.2 percent gain. Imports rose 56.2 percent for a trade surplus of US$1.65 billion.

The second monthly increase in overseas sales, which make up more than half of the economy, adds to signs that Taiwan is emerging from its worst recession. Even so, the figure may overstate the strength of the revival because exports tumbled 42 percent in December 2008 amid the global financial crisis.

“A low comparison base was the main reason for the increase,” said Alan Liao, an economist at Chinatrust Commercial Bank (中信銀) in Taipei. “A steady expansion of the global economy also helped boost demand for Taiwan’s exports.”

Exports last month totaled US$20.03 billion and imports totaled US$18.38 billion, the report said.

“We remain optimistic that [exports are] likely to continue to pick up as firms and businesses increasingly confident of a slow and steady recovery opted to raise capex spending this year,” Tony Phoo (符銘財), chief economist at Standard Chartered Bank (渣打銀行), said in a statement yesterday.

Exports to China almost doubled, climbing 96.7 percent from a year earlier. That compared with a 56 percent increase in November. Shipments to the US rose 4 percent, after dropping 5.8 percent in November, the ministry said. Sales to Europe rose 22.5 percent, up from 3.9 percent.

On a full-year basis, exports and imports saw the biggest decline in history last year, with the former contracting 20.3 percent to US$203.7 billion and the latter falling 27.4 percent to US$174.66 billion, an official at the Ministry of Finance said.

At the same time, last year’s trade surplus hit an all-time high of US$29.04 billion, up 91.3 percent, or US$13.86 billion, compared with the previous year, the ministry’s data showed.

“The high surplus was the result of a much sharper decline in imports than in exports last year,” Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞), head of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.

Lin attributed the drop in imports to the fact that oil prices, demand for raw materials and equipment investment all fell last year.

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