Export orders continued a winning streak last month, which helped second-quarter orders grow year-on-year, ending six consecutive quarters of declines, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Export orders — a critical gauge of how actual exports are likely to perform in the following one to three months — grew 6.5 percent year-on-year and 5.4 percent month-on-month to US$41 billion last month, the ministry said.
This was the fourth straight month that orders have been in the black, which Department of Statistics Director Huang Yu-ling (黃于玲) attributed to strong demand for electronic products and rising oil and steel prices.
Photo courtesy of Taiwan International Ports Corp
Orders for the second quarter increased 3.1 percent from a year earlier to US$118.42 billion, 13.6 percent higher than the previous quarter, ministry data showed.
However, cumulative orders for the first half of the year decreased 0.1 percent year-on-year to US$222.66 billion, the data showed.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for work-from-home and distance learning-related electronics has skyrocketed, pushing orders for information communications products such as laptops, tablets and servers up 17.1 percent annually to US$13.0 billion last month, although they declined 0.2 percent from May.
Huang said she expects demand for such products to remain strong this month as COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide.
Demand for electronics products such as wafers, memory chips and printed circuit boards were also strong, with orders increasing 23.9 percent year-on-year to US$12.3 billion and 9.2 percent from May, the data showed.
Demand for optical equipment such as flat panels picked up and prices stopped falling, resulting in US$1.9 billion in orders, 3.8 percent growth year-on-year and a 4.8 percent increase month-on-month, the data showed.
Orders for mechanical equipment, petrochemical products and chemicals have been hit hard amid the pandemic, but Huang said that a steady rise in oil and steel prices has mitigated the downward trend.
While oil prices have been on an upward trend since April, they were still 41.1 percent lower than a year earlier last month, the ministry said.
Last month, orders for mechanical products fell 5.1 percent annually, but rose 3.1 percent monthly to US$1.6 billion, petrochemical orders dropped 10 percent year-on-year, but expanded 10.2 percent month-on-month to US$1.6 billion, and chemical product orders decreased 20.1 percent from a year earlier, but increased 8.2 percent from the previous month to US$1.3 billion, the data showed.
US orders increased 13.6 percent year-on-year to US$13.3 billion last month, orders from China, including Hong Kong, rose 13 percent to US$10.6 billion and European orders advanced 10.8 percent to US$7.5 billion, the data showed.
Despite last month’s orders beating expectations, Huang said that she is only “cautiously optimistic” about the numbers for this month, as uncertainties abound.
“We hope the demand for work-from-home devices will still be strong and growth in oil and steel prices will remain steady, but the COVID-19 situation in the US, South America and India has not stabilized,” she said.
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