The local machine tool industry is forecast to see a recovery this year, with annual production value likely to increase 15 to 20 percent, the Taiwan Machine Tool & Accessory Builders’ Association (台灣工具機暨零組件公會) said yesterday.
“A survey of our members showed that they are cautiously optimistic about 2021,” association chairman Habor Hsu (許文憲) told a news conference in Taipei. “We are expecting annual growth of 15 to 20 percent.”
The machinery industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
Photo: Lin Jing-hua, Taipei Times
Domestic manufacturers last month exported US$206 million in machine tools, up 9.3 percent month-on-month, but down 18.2 percent year-on-year, association data showed.
Cumulative exports for machine tool products last year were US$215.4 million, down 29.7 percent from 2019, association data showed.
However, the market is beginning to turn a corner, Hsu said.
“The worst is behind us,” Hsu said. “Demand is returning both from China and the United States.”
Hsu said that he expects the machinery component segment to rebound next quarter and the sale of machine tools in the third quarter of this year.
However, three potential uncertainties demand vigilance: fluctuations in raw material prices, shortages in cargo containers and the strengthening of the New Taiwan dollar against the US dollar, he said.
“We need the help of the government in stabilizing the prices of raw materials such as copper, iron and aluminum,” Hsu said, adding that he hoped government-owned shipping companies would “help out” by prioritizing freight space for local manufacturers.
However, he declined to give the government any recommendations for stabilizing the NT dollar.
“We have no comment on the NT dollar, as we do not want Taiwan to be labeled a ‘currency manipulator,’” Hsu said.
Last month, the US Department of the Treasury added Taiwan to its currency “monitoring list,” the first time that Taiwan has appeared on the list since 2017.
The NT dollar yesterday rose 0.01 percent to NT$28.481 in Taipei trading.
China last year bought the most Taiwanese machine tools, accounting for 35.1 percent of the total, followed by the US (12.7 percent), association data showed.
Turkey accounted for 7.7 percent of total exports, up 82 percent from 2019, the data showed.
“We can expect further growth from new markets such as Turkey and Russia,” Hsu said. “We hope that state-run banks can help out with loans for buyers in those countries.”
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