The nation’s exports last month slid 3.8 percent from a year earlier to US$27.13 billion, as poor shipments of mineral, chemical and plastic products eclipsed record semiconductor sales, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
“Despite rebounds in international oil and raw material prices, demand for related products remained sluggish,” Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) told a news conference in Taipei.
That was the reason shipments of mineral products plunged a record 65.5 percent, while shipments of chemical, base metal and plastic products declined 25.3 percent, 23.8 percent and 23.4 percent respectively, Tsai said.
Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters
Price factors aside, a languid global economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh on demand, she said.
However, sales of electronic components were strong, increasing 23.9 percent to US$11.18 billion, with semiconductor shipments jumping 27.4 percent to US$10.25 billion, moving above US$10 billion for the first time, Tsai said.
The COVID-19 crisis spurred demand for devices used in remote working, learning and entertainment, Tsai said, adding that front-loading by China’s Huawei Technologies Co (華為) likely also supported semiconductor shipments.
Washington recently imposed new restrictions on the Chinese company’s use of US technology and equipment, which do not affect orders previously placed with Taiwanese suppliers.
Imports fell 8.6 percent to US$22.29 billion last month, as local firms cut back on imports of raw materials and capital equipment by 11.3 percent and 3.2 percent respectively, the ministry’s report showed.
The small decline in imports of capital equipment was no reason to worry, Tsai said.
Taiwan last month had a trade surplus of US$4.84 billion, an annual increase of 26.6 percent.
For the second quarter, exports shrank 2.4 percent from a year earlier to US$79.35 billion, while imports dropped 4 percent to US$67.52 billion.
Outbound shipments would remain in contraction mode this month, dropping 1.5 to 4 percent, Tsai said, hesitating to bet on seasonal movements, citing poor order visibility.
Companies in the 5G network deployment, laptop and data center supply chains are looking at a robust third quarter, but vendors of smartphone parts have adopted a conservative attitude.
Shipments to China last month increased 13.8 percent and those to the US rose 3.7 percent, thanks to tech sales, but trade with Japan, ASEAN members and Europe dropped by double-digit percentages, as economies are struggling to recover from the virus outbreak, the ministry said.
For the first six months, exports increased 0.5 percent from a year earlier to US$158.02 billion, while imports slipped 0.4 percent to US$136.67 billion, it said.
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