The nation’s exports contracted 6.5 percent last month year-on-year, easing to a single-digit percentage for the first time in 11 months, as demand for electronics improved slightly and oil prices stabilized, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
The downturn has now continued for 15 consecutive months, longer than the trough following the 2008-2009 worldwide financial crisis, as international trade is in the doldrums and the nation’s exporters have failed to introduce game-changing innovations or tap new markets.
“The global economy remains soft and the improvement has much to do with a low base last year,” Department of Statistics Director-General Yeh Maan-tzwu (葉滿足) said.
The pace of the decline might widen this month, given the relatively high base of the same period last year and the continuing effect of this quarter’s off season for technology products, Yeh said.
Exports shrank 6.5 percent annually to US$22.25 billion last month, while imports fell 9.6 percent to US$17.45 billion, rendering a trade surplus of US$4.8 billion, ministry data showed.
All product categories posted negative year-on-year growth, except for machinery shipments, which gained 2.4 percent, due to the sector’s competitive advantage in the global market, the report said.
Exports of electronic products declined 3.4 percent to US$6.89 billion, while information and communications shipments retreated 11.4 percent to US$2.38 billion, the report said.
Together, the two product categories make up 41.7 percent of the nation’s exports, and the performance of the two sectors is key to the economy, the report said.
Shipments to China — which with 39.2 percent of total exports last month was the nation’s most significant export destination — last month dropped 6.8 percent annually to US$8.72 billion, narrowing from a 14.2 percent decline in March, the report said.
Sales of electronic components to China posted a 4 percent pickup, while shipments of optical, plastic and mineral products retreated, the report said.
A decline in exports to the US last month worsened to 12.7 percent year-on-year, from 8.5 percent in March as the world’s main end-market for consumer electronics bought fewer handheld devices, Yeh said.
However, demand from Europe appears to have stabilized with outbound shipments last month growing 10.4 percent to US$2.24 billion from the same period last year, compared with a 3 percent fall in March, the report said.
Yeh attributed the upturn to improving sales of basic metal, chemical and machinery products.
In the first four months, exports declined 10.7 percent from the same period last year, while imports fell 12.9 percent.
The ministry sees no indications of any recovery in the near term, Yeh said.
Capital equipment imports, a barometer of private investment, gained 6.4 percent year-on-year to US$3.07 billion, accelerating from a 0.3 percent increase in March, the report said.
However, local semiconductor companies acquired less equipment last month from a year earlier, although the year-to-date sum did show a modest increase, Yeh said.
Demand aside, crude prices continued to weigh on exports, but the impact appears to be tapering off, the official said.
Exports would have returned to positive territory last month in the absence of crude price disruptions, Yeh said.
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit
‘SIGNAL TO ALLIES’: The US Navy’s exercises are not in response to those carried out by China, the commander of the strike group led by the USS ‘Ronald Reagan’ said Two US aircraft carriers were yesterday conducting exercises in the disputed South China Sea, the US Navy said as China also carried out military drills that have been criticized by the US Department of Defense and neighboring states. China and the US have accused each other of stoking tension in the waterway at a time of strained relations over everything from COVID-19 to trade to Hong Kong. The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan were carrying out operations and exercises in the South China Sea “to support a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the navy said in a statement. It did not say exactly