Export orders fell 3.04 percent last month from a year earlier to US$36.47 billion, marking the third consecutive month of single-digit year-on-year decline because of continuous weak demand, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
By country, export orders from China — the nation’s largest export destination — declined 4.32 percent year-on-year last month to US$9.42 billion, with precision instruments accounting for the biggest decline.
“The decrease [in orders] marked the sixth consecutive year-on-year decline and reflected China’s economy remaining in a conundrum,” Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜), deputy director of the ministry’s Department of Statistics, told a press conference.
Export orders from the US grew 5.86 percent year-on-year to US$8.75 billion last month, with electronic products contributing most to the increase, topping the same month last year by US$240 million, the ministry’s data showed.
“The US was the only region among the six major export regions from which Taiwan received year-on-year export growth in May, indicating better momentum in the US economy and stronger private consumption in the country,” Tsai said.
Orders from Europe fell 8.17 percent annually to US$6.33 billion, with transportation goods accounting for the most contraction, the data showed.
Six ASEAN countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) placed US$3.88 billion in orders with Taiwan — a decline of 8.16 percent from last year, data showed.
It marked the first decline for the six ASEAN nations since the financial crisis of 2008, Tsai said.
Last month’s export orders from Japan declined for the 13th consecutive month since May last year, but last month was the smallest decline recorded, indicating that Japan was recovering from the earthquake and tsunami in March last year, Tsai said.
By product, information technology and electronics goods accounted for the greatest number of orders with totals of US$9 billion and US$8.52 billion respectively. The US and China were the two largest importers of those goods, the ministry said.
On a monthly basis, export orders rose 1.07 percent from the US$36.09 billion reported in April, the data showed.
Orders in the first five months contracted US$970 million, or 0.55 percent, to US$176.37 billion from a year ago, the data showed.
This month, export orders are expected to dip year-on-year from the US$37.36 billion recorded a year ago, the ministry said.
Those figures should improve slightly from last month given that a ministry sentiment index stood at 55.59, which was above the base of 50, Tsai said.
Looking ahead, some beneficial factors, such as events like Computex and Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, would drive up export orders for handheld devices and notebook PCs, Tsai said.
China’s lowering of interest rates to stimulate domestic consumption would also help export orders.
However, the debt crisis in the eurozone, the slowing global economy, declining demand for plastic, chemical and basic metal raw materials and the approach of the traditional weak season for electronic industries would negatively affect the export order outlook in the near future, Tsai said.