Exports last month surged 8.3 percent year-on-year to a record US$31.17 billion, driven by seasonal demand for electronics and frontloading by China’s Huawei Technologies Co (華為) ahead of sales bans, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
The ministry painted the data as “surprisingly strong” and said it expects outbound shipments to expand by another 1.5 to 4.5 percent this month due to more working days and continued demand for electronic components.
“The [latest] trade data suggest that exports have stabilized, thanks to 5G deployment and distance businesses, as countries opened up their economy,” Department of Statistics Director-General Beatrice Tsai (蔡美娜) told a news conference in Taipei.
Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters
It is the first time exports surpassed US$30 billion, with electronic parts accounting for 40 percent at US$12.48 billion, up 19.1 percent from a year earlier, Tsai said.
Taiwan is a key global supplier of chips and other components used in smartphones, laptops, TVs and other consumer electronic gadgets.
Shipments to China soared 22.9 percent to US$14.46 billion, while those to the US jumped 13.8 percent to US$4.65 billion, both record numbers, Tsai said.
Meanwhile, declines in exports to Europe, Japan and ASEAN markets narrowed to single percentage points, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry’s monthly report said.
Frontloading by Huawei supplied the tailwind, Tsai said, putting the effect at between US$1.5 billion and US$2 billion.
The Chinese technology titan has aggressively built up inventory for its smartphones and 5G equipment because it would no longer be able to access US technology and equipment, directly or indirectly, from Tuesday next week.
Demand was strong for semiconductors, passive components, flat panels and wireless network devices, the ministry said.
Retreats in exports of non-tech products wound down except for mineral products, which plunged 56 percent from a year earlier as demand for travel by land, sea and air remained sluggish, Tsai said.
Oil prices tumbled 30.5 percent to US$45.2 a barrel last month, the ministry said.
Imports also gained momentum, with an 8.5 percent increase to US$24.71 billion, allowing Taiwan to register a trade surplus of US$6.47 billion, up 7.6 percent from a year earlier, it said.
Imports of capital equipment rose 19.3 percent as local semiconductor firms expand and upgrade their manufacturing facilities to stay competitive and meet customer needs, it said.
For the first eight months of the year, exports increased 1.5 percent to US$217.38 billion, while imports edged down 0.1 percent to US$184.2 billion, it said.
Trade data so far this quarter show a good chance of beating the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics’ forecast of a contraction, Tsai said.
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