Exports last month ended a six-month declining streak to post a 10.4 percent growth from a year earlier on the back of strong shipments of mineral and electronic products, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
The higher-than-expected expansion in outbound shipments last month also made the ministry more confident that exports in the fourth quarter may continue this trend.
Outbound shipments totaled US$27.17 billion last month, up 10 percent from August and marking the highest level in 14 months, the ministry said in a report.
These drove exports in the first nine months to US$223.56 billion, down 3.9 percent from a year earlier, the report said.
“The recovering demand from the Asian region made Taiwan’s exports last month report a double-digit growth from a year ago,” Yeh Maan-tzwu (葉滿足), director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.
Exports of mineral products and electronic products were two major categories driving up exports last month, with both shipments marking record-high levels, Yeh said.
Shipments of mineral products grew 1.4-fold to US$2.38 billion last month from the previous year amid strong demand from the ASEAN countries, while electronics exports rose 10.5 percent year-on-year to US$7.75 billion on active stocking from China and Japan, Yeh added.
However, exports of information and communications technology (ICT) products — which fell 20.1 percent from a year earlier to US$1.18 billion last month — still marked the largest contraction among the 10 major export categories.
Shipments to most of Taiwan’s major export destinations, such as China, Hong Kong, the US and Japan, rebounded from their previous downward trend, the report said.
Exports to six major ASEAN members expanded 41.4 percent from the previous year to US$5.42 billion — their highest level ever — led by shipments to Indonesia and the Philippines.
By contrast, shipments to Europe continued to contract, sliding 10.5 percent year-on-year to US$2.27 billion last month, the report’s data showed.
Yeh said exports in the fourth quarter may maintain their pace of year-on-year growth on recovering demand.
However, Yeh said he was not sure whether outbound shipments would rise this month from a year ago, because the comparison basis for the same period last year was relatively high.
Sydney-based Moody’s Analytics associate economist Katrina Ell echoed Yeh’s sentiments.
“We expect global demand will gradually pick up, driving an improvement to Taiwan’s exports over the fourth quarter,” Ell said in a research note.
However, because the US is a key market for Taiwanese electronic products, it is likely electronics demand will again weaken unless there is an improvement for the US economy, raising some downside risks, Ell added.
Inbound shipments last month climbed 1.3 percent and 8 percent from a year and a month ago respectively to US$23.09 billion, data showed.
However, imports of capital goods slid 0.2 percent to US$2.82 billion last month from the previous year, the ministry said.
The trade surplus expanded to US$4.08 billion last month, from the US$3.3 billion posted in August, ministry statistics showed.