Export orders for last month surged 4.8 percent month-on-month and 38.3 percent year-on-year to a record-high US$60.55 billion, the Ministry of Economic Affairs reported yesterday.
That easily beat the ministry’s forecast range of US$56.5 billion to NT$58 billion.
“The continued strength of 5G, high-performance computing and delayed demand for a certain smartphone product caught us by surprise,” Department of Statistics Director Huang Yu-ling (黃于玲) told a news conference in Taipei.
Photo: David Chang, EPA-EFE
Apple Inc, which used to release its new iPhone models in September, delayed this year’s launch to Oct. 23 due to production disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because the [smartphone] product is generally released earlier, we saw a bump in orders related to its release continue into December,” Huang said.
Information and communications technology (ICT) orders totaled US$19.21 billion last month, down 7.8 percent month-on-month, but up 38.2 percent year-on-year, while electronic product orders reached a record high of US$19.29 billion, up 12.2 percent month-on-month and 58.4 percent year-on-year.
Orders for optical equipment increased 7 percent from November and 37.7 percent from a year earlier to US$2.54 billion, as demand for monitors exceeded supply and prices of larger monitors went up, the ministry said.
Orders for non-tech products also saw a robust recovery, as demand increased and commodity prices strengthened, it said.
Orders for base metal products hit US$2.64 billion, up 8.9 percent month-on-month and 23.9 percent year-on-year; those for mechanical products reached US$2.3 billion, up 23.5 percent month-on-month and 29.7 percent year-on-year; and those for chemical products totaled US$1.87 billion, up 21.8 percent month-on-month and 15.4 percent year-on-year, the ministry said.
For the whole of last year, export orders totaled US$533.66 billion, up 10.1 percent year-on-year.
ICT products secured orders of US$164.44 billion, up 13.6 percent; electronic products booked orders of US$161.44 billion, up 25.3 percent; and optical products secured orders of US$24.28 billion, up 7.5 percent year-on-year, the ministry said.
Although orders shrank in the first quarter due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the resultant strong demand for ICT products due to work-from-home and distance learning trends gave Taiwanese tech firms a boost, Huang said.
“By the second quarter, tech orders had recovered,” Huang said. “However, it took longer for traditional industries to rebound, with orders for base metals, plastics and chemical products all falling from 2019 levels.”
The mechanical industry was the only traditional industry to end the year on a positive note.
“Orders for mechanical products started posting annual growth in July, and for the whole of last year, they totaled US$20.82 billion, up 4.1 percent from the previous year,” she said.
Based on a survey of Taiwanese exporters, export orders for this month would reach US$51 billion to US$52.5 billion, down 13.3 to 15.8 percent from last month, but up 44.5 to 48.7 percent year-on-year, she said.
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