A decline in the nation’s exports last month widened 8.8 percent annually to US$20.39 billion, as demand for almost all product categories weakened amid a global economic slowdown, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
It was the fourth straight month that exports retreated, with the pace of contraction likely to reach 3 percent this quarter, deeper than the government’s forecast of 2.81 percent, Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) said.
“Global slowdown aside, fewer working days and front-loading in January dragged on outbound shipments last month,” Tsai said.
Photo: Wu Chia-jung, Taipei Times
Imports saw a steeper downturn of 19.7 percent year-on-year to US$15.47 billion, allowing the trade surplus to swell 59.7 percent to US$4.93 billion, the ministry said in a report.
Shipments of electronics, the mainstay of the nation’s overall exports at a share of 31.5 percent, declined 8.3 percent to US$6.42 billion, as demand from China for chips slowed, it said.
Disappointing sales of smartphones and other consumer electronics has driven global brands to be conservative about inventory building, Tsai said, adding that order visibility would remain poor until the launch of next-generation devices in the second half of this year.
Lingering US-China trade disputes have cast a shadow over the landscape, even though the world’s two largest economies have agreed to extend a truce on additional tariffs, she said.
While exports of optical products plunged 17.1 percent, high-end camera lenses staged an 11 percent increase, thanks to the release of new smartphones by a global brand, Tsai said, alluding to China’s Huawei Technologies Co (華為).
Shipments of information and communications technology products bucked the trend with a 9.7 percent increase, as some local firms moved manufacturing facilities back from China to avoid extra tariff burdens on computer servers, she said.
As a result, exports to China fell 10.4 percent, but gained 13.5 percent to the US, the report said.
Shipments destined for other markets all weakened, with a 15.9 percent decline for Europe, 12 percent for ASEAN members and 4.4 percent for Japan, it said.
The situation might stabilize this month, as some firms have started to rebuild inventory, encouraged by positive developments in US-China trade talks, but the rebound would be small, Tsai said.
An increase in capital equipment imports by local semiconductor firms lent support to confidence recovery, the report said.
Shipments of base metals, chemicals and plastic products fared weaker, shrinking 17.7 percent, 16.5 percent and 7.9 percent respectively from a year earlier due to soft raw material prices, it said.
Overall, exports dropped 4.1 percent to US$47.69 billion, while imports fell 4.8 percent to US$41.86 billion, it added.
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South