Export orders last month grew 13.6 percent year-on-year to US$45.5 billion, thanks to continued strong demand for information and communications technology (ICT) and electronic products, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
Orders have been rising for six consecutive months on an annual basis, the ministry said.
“We can see that the orders are continuing to arrive [for ICT and electronic products], as economies around the world are getting back to business again,” Department of Statistics Director Huang Yu-ling (黃于玲) said. “However, we are also seeing the resurgence of COVID-19 in many countries, adding uncertainty.”
Photo: Reuters / Ann Wang
Orders for ICT products dropped 8.3 percent month-on-month, but increased 26.4 percent year-on-year to US$13.23 billion, the highest August level on record, on the back of work-from-home and distance learning trends, the ministry said.
Electronic products orders reached US$14.02 billion, up 28.2 percent annually and also the highest for August, which Huang attributed to increasing telecommuting as well as demand for 5G telecommunications and high-performance computing.
Mechanical equipment orders were US$1.74 billion, falling 2.4 percent from the previous month, but rising 7 percent year-on-year as annual growth continued to stay in positive territory, the ministry said.
Orders for basic metal products slid 2 percent year-on-year to US$2.08 billion and those for plastic and rubber products dropped 3 percent annually to US$1.79 billion, but their rates of decline have been slowing, the ministry said.
However, orders for chemical products continued a six-month trend of double-digit percentage declines, with last month’s figure falling 9.5 percent month-on-month and 20.1 percent year-on-year to US$1.29 billion.
“The chemical industry has to contend with competitors with high excess capacity. It is also highly sensitive to global oil prices,” Huang said.
A possible concern is the strength of the New Taiwan dollar. While export orders in US dollar terms grew 13.6 percent year-on-year, the number only grew 6.7 percent in NT dollar terms, the ministry said.
Huang said that small and medium-sized enterprises are likely to be harder hit by the strong NT dollar.
“The semiconductor industry or other businesses that are global industry leaders can set the price to reflect the strength of the NT dollar and pass on some of the costs to their customers,” Huang said. “However, small and medium-sized companies that are not price-setters will find it harder to absorb the cost.”
The department expects export orders to reach US$45.5 billion to US$47 billion this month, which would represent monthly growth of zero to 3.3 percent and an annual increase of 0.1 to 3.2 percent, Huang said.
Asked if she anticipates export orders to grow year-on-year for the whole of this year, Huang said she is cautiously optimistic, but uncertain.
“We are now positive for the first eight months and traditionally the fourth quarter is stronger, but it has been a weird year,” she said.
In the first eight months, export orders totaled US$313.72 billion, up 3.4 percent from a year earlier and the second-highest level for the same period, ministry data showed.
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