The nation’s export orders fell 7.4 percent annually to US$27.67 billion last month, better than the government’s expectation of a 10 percent decline, due to improving demand for smartphones and laptops, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
The latest results represent the 11th consecutive month of contraction in export orders, a critical economic indicator which sheds light on actual shipments one to three months ahead.
“The 7.4 percent annual decline was smaller than our previous forecast, mainly because of recovering demand for notebooks from European and US markets, and increasing orders for chips used in smartphones from China,” the ministry’s Department of Statistics Director-General Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞) told a news conference.
Supported by higher demand for notebooks, the annual decline for Taiwan’s information and communication sector eased to 1.8 percent last month from the 11.2 percent fall recorded a month earlier, Lin said.
She said the contraction in electronics products also narrowed to 1.5 percent from the 7.9 percent decline in January on the back of robust demand for solar products and chips used in smartphones.
However, orders for Taiwan’s basic metals, petrochemicals, machinery goods, precision instruments and plastic and rubber products still remained in negative territory, with the decline in orders for precision instruments deteriorating, Lin said.
Orders for Taiwan’s precision instruments plunged 32.5 percent to US$1.35 billion last month from a year earlier, marking the fastest pace of contraction since April in 2009, dragging down by tepid demand for panels from China, the ministry said.
“The rising competition from China and falling average selling prices for panel products weakened orders for Taiwan’s panel products last month,” Lin said.
By export destination, orders from the US contracted for the fourth straight month to US$7.56 billion last month, primarily due to weak demand for smartphones over the past few months, Lin said.
Orders from China and Hong Kong, Europe and Japan all fell last month from a year ago, the data showed.
Orders from ASEAN were the only bright spot with orders growing by 0.4 percent from a year earlier, driven by demand for notebooks and smartphones, Lin said.
The ministry expects export orders to increase this month from last month, with the decline slowing to less than 10 percent, Lin said, citing an internal survey of local firms.
The survey found 68 percent of local manufacturers said they expect to receive more orders this month from last month.
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