Export orders last month dropped by 12.8 percent to US$35.31 billion, the biggest annual decline in seven years, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday, blaming the decrease to slipping orders for information and communications technology (ICT) products.
Following a short-lived recovery in December last year, export orders for ICT products contracted last month by 17 percent year-on-year to US$9.7 billion due to declining orders of smartphones, laptops and servers.
“We also have to take into account that there were six fewer working days last month [than in January last year] due to the Lunar New Year holiday,” Department of Statistics Director Huang Yu-ling (黃于玲) told a news conference in Taipei.
As more than 90 percent of ICT products are produced overseas, mainly in China, the COVID-19 outbreak might further affect production and undercut orders this month, she said.
“We expect the outbreak to affect between US$3 billion and US$3.5 billion of export orders this month,” Huang said, adding that about 80 percent of that amount would come from orders of ICT products.
Orders for electronics, which make up nearly one-third of the nation’s overall export orders, last month posted a relatively mild decline of 1.3 percent to US$10.3 billion, ministry data showed.
“The market for consumer electronics has entered a traditionally weak season, resulting in a smaller number of orders for suppliers,” Huang said.
Nonetheless, growing demand for foundry services and ICs propelled by upcoming 5G deployments helped cushion the fall in electronics orders, she said.
Orders of optoelectronics last month plummeted 18.8 percent to US$1.54 billion and the value might drop further this month due to supply chain disruptions as a result of the outbreak in China, Huang said, citing a government survey of optoelectronics makers.
In non-tech industries, export orders of base metals products; machinery equipment; rubber and plastic products; and chemicals all fell last month amid negative global market sentiment, the data showed.
However, those industries are expected to show annual growth in orders of between 9.7 percent and 14.9 percent this month due to a relatively low comparison base, Huang said.
To assist disease-affected manufacturers, the ministry has proposed budgeting an additional NT$3.47 billion (US$114.7 million) in funds, Industrial Development Bureau Director-General Richard Leu (呂正華) said.
The ministry has also looked at expanding the criteria for firms to be considered eligible to participate in government programs encouraging investment in the nation, he said.
Similar to a program aimed at assisting small and medium-sized enterprises initiated last week, the ministry has proposed an interest rate reduction of 1.06 percent for loans to local manufacturers and plans to allocate about NT$946 million to subsidize their interest payments, he added.
“We would also subsidize manufacturers that seek to sharpen their competitive edge through investment in innovation,” Leu said, adding that free courses would also be offered to companies’ employees.
Luxury hotel Mandarin Oriental Taipei (文華東方酒店) yesterday announced that it would suspend guestroom operations and lay off related staffers from Monday, as regional border controls and travel restrictions are unlikely to be lifted anytime soon. The partial shutdown would not affect the five-star hotel’s restaurants, bars, spa, and conference and banquet facilities, which this month have almost recovered to pre-pandemic levels, it said. “Mandarin Oriental Taipei will suspend all guestroom services from June 1 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the hotel said after four months of maintaining normal operations proved unsustainable. The change necessitates downsizing and the hotel is handling
Eslite Spectrum Corp (誠品生活), which runs the Eslite bookstore chain, yesterday said that it would close more outlets in Taiwan later this year as part of a business restructuring plan. At this year’s annual general meeting, Eslite chairwoman Mercy Wu (吳旻潔) told shareholders that the company remains upbeat about the market, despite the announced closures. Eslite would close its bookstore at Kaohsiung Medical University at the end of this month and its Shih Chien University bookstore in Taipei at the end of next month, Wu added. The closures are a necessary part of efforts to restructure its business operations, she said. The company on
The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) would set up new guidance by the end of August to boost corporate governance, insurers’ solvency, green financing, financial technology, the trust industry and information security, new FSC Chairman Thomas Huang (黃天牧) said yesterday. “Corporate governance has been improved in terms of compliance and shareholding disclosure with former chairman Wellington Koo (顧立雄) at the helm. It is time to move to the next phase to focus on companies’ roles in sustainable development,” Huang told a news conference in New Taipei City. The commission would also set policies to incentivize companies to increase green financing and adopt the
REVOLVING DOOR? MediaTek said that it has invested more than NT$100 billion in developing 5G chips over the past few years and built a team of 3,000 engineers MediaTek Inc (聯發科), the world’s second-largest handset chip designer, yesterday declined to comment on a report that China’s second-largest smartphone maker, Oppo Mobile Telecommunications Corp (歐珀), is poaching its highest-ranking executive in charge of 5G chip development. The company said that it had its employees sign agreements on labor ethics. Most Taiwanese tech companies impose “revolving door” restrictions on employees, preventing them from leaving for competitors. MediaTek shares yesterday climbed 0.98 percent to close at NT$464.5, compared with the TAIEX climbing 0.16 percent. Turnover jumped 22 percent to 8.15 million shares, compared with 6.68 million shares on Tuesday. Investors did not flinch when the